5 Nov 2019

Guy Fawkes: Caution urged amid hot and dry conditions

6:06 pm on 5 November 2019

People planning their backyard Guy Fawkes parties tonight are being warned to be extra careful because of the fire risk from high winds.

A small firework is set off on a street.

A small firework is set off on a street. Photo: 123rf

Fire and Emergency spokesperson Pete Gallagher said most people were well behaved, but those who did not posed a serious risk.

"We are starting to see more acts which are a little bit more concerning to us, people discharging fireworks from vehicles and those sorts of things."

Mr Gallagher said fire safety was more important than ever at the moment with soaring temperatures and high winds across the country.

He urged people to watch for stray sparks and embers - and stamp them out.

"So already we've already seen a number of smaller vegetation fires or grass fires occurring, and it would only take one of those to be a late call to us, or to get into longer grass or dryer and thicker material then it would be very challenging with the winds the way they are now."

Weatherwatch said most of the country would be dry tonight with some light winds. The West Coast, mostly the southern half, as well as Southland should watch out for some rain.

A northwesterly breeze might be problematic for some in Wellington too, it said.

With warmer than average temperatures and dry conditions, the risk of fires was heightened, Weatherwatch said. It urged people to take precautions because scrub and grass fires may be highly likely in some areas.

Weatherwatch is also asking people to consider animals before lighting up fireworks, since they can become extremely stressed by it.

In Auckland, some are worried the tradition may be coming to an end with the council now urging the government to ban private sales of fireworks.

Wah-Lee, an Auckland store selling fireworks, is a hive of activity as people rush in for preparations for tonight.

Miranda, who stood outside with a bag filled with fireworks, said she opposed a ban on private sales of fireworks.

"It's a tradition that we all enjoy, that is fun, that is mostly harmless if done properly and I think it'd be a shame if it was only in a public display."

Retailer Mary Allan said it would be a sad loss.

"Retail fireworks really helps family and friends come together in a really lovely atmosphere and that's a big part of it that doesn't get talked about, and not all fireworks are allowed. There's lots of beautiful stuff that's very quiet, so a total ban is kind of a bit extreme."

She said she noticed an increasing number of people wanting to buy fireworks that would not upset neighbouring animals.

"We have people come in here that live next to horses, they come in to buy quiet stuff, they're thinking about their neighbours and they're concerned about them ... it's not all big booms and bangs, that's for sure."

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