26 Jan 2024

Highest fire risk for Manawatū-Whanganui region this summer

11:33 am on 26 January 2024
Dry land

File photo. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The fire danger will be very high for the Manawatū-Whanganui region this weekend, Fire and Emergency says.

District Manager Nigel Dravitzki said this included central and lower Whanganui, lower Rangitikei, central and lower Manawatū, and all of Horowhenua.

He was asking the public not to light any fires in those areas.

"We are suspending all current fire permits issued for the coastal zone until Monday 29 January because of the increased fire danger, which is the highest we have seen so far this summer,

"We are especially concerned about coastal areas where there is also a restricted fire season in place."

Dravitzki said the public should also avoid any activities around dry scrub and grass that could cause a spark like driving a vehicle, mowing, or welding.

"The fire danger is such that spark could easily start a fire that would spread quickly and be very difficult for our firefighters to put out.

"Anyone who has lit a fire recently should go back and make sure the burn pile is completely out. Dig it up, pour water over it and check with the back of your hand there is no heat."

He said while some rain was forecast over the weekend, it may not be enough to alleviate the fire danger risk.

Meanwhile, Southland is moving back to an open fire season after restrictions were imposed last month.

The change means permits were no longer required for people who wanted to light open-air fires.

Fire and Emergency said there was less fire danger because of recent rain, but people should still be careful lighting fires, especially when it was windy.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs