Warm conditions increase fire risk along east coast

6:06 pm on 8 January 2019

Fire and Emergency is warning hot, dry weather sweeping up New Zealand could bring an elevated fire risk.

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People should contact Fire and Emergency immediately if they see any signs of fire along the east coast, the service says. Photo: 123rf.com

Southland is in a restricted fire season following a raft of vegetation blazes, which means that permits are required to light any outdoor fire.

Fire and Emergency national advisor for risk management Pete Gallagher said other parts of the country are under watch.

"As that weather climbs up the east coast of both islands, we're starting to see the country dry out. So eastern areas - up through Canterbury, up through Marlborough, across into Masterton and up the east coast - are now starting to get quite dry," he said.

"The forecast is for them to dry out even further."

Mr Gallagher says people should keep an eye on Fire and Emergency's website, www.checkitsalright.nz, to see if the fire season status is updated where they live.

He also urged people to make a plan for what to do if a fire gets out of hand.

"That plan should include calling emergency services as soon as possible. If things start to go wrong or you see smoke and aren't aware of a burn-off occurring in that area, get help on the way. Get our people there so we can start to take action while the fire is at a point we can control it quickly and early."

He said people could see clouds or rain and assume that it meant a lower fire risk, but this wasn't always the case.

"In actual fact, sometimes it takes quite a lot of rain to really influence the fire index and bring it down to a range that allows an open fire season."