14 Dec 2020

Scorching weather prompts restricted fire season in Canterbury

5:04 pm on 14 December 2020

A restricted fire season has been declared for the whole of Canterbury ahead of scorching weather predicted for later this week.

Dry land around Opuha Dam, Canterbury, 25 February 2015

Dry land around Opuha Dam, Canterbury last year. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Fire and Emergency say the restrictions will come into force from midnight Wednesday.

North Canterbury principal rural fire officer Bruce Janes said expected hot and dry conditions played a factor in making the decision.

He said the change in rules mean people must obtain a permit if they want to light a fire.

"We've got a belt of very dry conditions from Southbridge, up over the Port Hills and running right up to Omihi up the coastal belt," Janes said.

"And on the back of that La Nina is here so those predicted high temperatures and little rain are here."

MetService is forecasting temperatures in Canterbury to reach 30C on Wednesday and Saturday, with temperatures in the mid-to-late 20s tomorrow, Friday and Sunday.

Janes said the timing of the restricted season was not unusual, with last year's restrictions also declared in December.

"We've had a great spring with lots of rain, which has led to lots of growth. That will be a problem from a fire perspective later in the summer," he said.

Janes said if hot and dry conditions continued over the next few weeks, a total fire ban could be on the cards.

He said his advice for people was to get a permit and to be careful.

"Burn wisely with considerations from where the fire would go in windy conditions, don't smoke out your neighbours, don't smoke out a road," Janes said.

"Try and get a fire done without big northwesterlies coming in only two days time."

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