Fire restrictions across NZ: Northland 'near extreme' danger

3:02 pm on 18 December 2020

A total fire ban has been called for Central Otago, and Northlanders are being warned of near-extreme fire danger levels.

No caption

Dry summer conditions mean fire restrictions or bans are in place for Northland, Auckland and the central North Island. Photo: RNZ / Liz Garton

Outside of the Central Otago fire ban area, fires are still restricted in the rest of the region, meaning permits are needed to light fires outdoors.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Mark Mawhinney said there had been a couple of grass fires recently that quickly spread and could easily have got out of control.

He said it was a clear sign of how dangerous conditions are at present.

Northland - all fire permits suspended as strong winds bear down

In Northland, Fire and Emergency have warned Northlanders to take extra care with any fire risks, as conditions are dry, and the danger nears extreme levels across the region.

Strong winds caused by Tropical Cyclone Yasa were expected to gust through the area from Sunday to Tuesday, increasing the risk from wildfires.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor said all fire permits were suspended, and asked everyone in Northland to not light any fires.

"The chances of [fire] escaping is extremely high due to these winds, and once it does escape it will be very difficult to stop.

"So my advice would be: please don't burn anything until further notice, and we will advise the public when it's safe to do so again."

Extra resources had been made available and helicopter crews were on standby to easily respond to any potential flare ups.

Taylor asked that the burn sites of any recently lit fires be checked to make sure they were completely out, so the wind would not reignite them.

"Dig them up, pour water over them and check with the back of your hand there is no heat. Let's all do our part to stop a devastating wildfire happening in Northland."

Dry conditions in Auckland, Central North Island, Canterbury

Restrictions are in place for fires in the Auckland mainland area from today, and all outdoor fires are banned on the Hauraki Gulf Islands. On Wednesday restrictions were imposed for the 'Pumicelands' area of Taupō, Rotorua and Tauranga.

On Wednesday a ban on fireworks was announced for places in Canterbury, following a large fire in the Port Hills that threatened homes before being brought under control on Saturday.

That fire followed a series of vegetation fires in the Port Hills earlier in the month, which FENZ said began under suspicious circumstances.

A major fire swept through the hills in 2017, causing millions of dollars of damage.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs