16 Feb 2024

Prohibited fire season for Coastal Waitaki

2:02 pm on 16 February 2024
Fire and Emergency at a scrub fire in Lee Valley on 8 February, 2024.

File pic Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

Coastal Waitaki will ban outdoor fires from Monday morning until further notice.

Fire and Emergency district manager Phil Marsh said there was a great deal of very dry vegetation that was a significant fire risk, prompting the change to a prohibited fire season.

Read's RNZ's explainer on the fire season

Fire and Emergency incident controller Phil Marsh.

Phil Marsh Photo: Supplied

He said the westerly winds forecast for the rest of the summer and into autumn would further dry out vegetation.

That increased the likelihood of a fire starting and rapidly becoming difficult to control.

"Coastal Waitaki has several areas of higher fire risk. Rural properties on the edge of towns where the potential for fires to start and spread to adjacent properties is very high, like the outskirts of Oamaru, Shag Point and Moeraki," Marsh said.

"We also have several areas of forestry which would be a challenge for ground-based response to a wildfire."

He was asking people not to do any activities that posed a fire risk, such as mowing, welding, and driving through long grass.

"But if you must mow your lawn or undertake any farm activity that's likely to generate sparks, do it first thing in the morning when it is still cool."

Steps to protect properties included:

  • Clearing flammable material from 10 metres around homes and buildings.
  • Moving firewood stacked against houses
  • Clearing gutters of dried leaves etc that will easily catch fire
  • Clearing flammable material from under decks
  • Trimming trees and bushes and removing the trimmings
  • Keeping grass short (using a trimmer with a nylon line is safer in these conditions than a mower or trimmer with a metal blade that could create a spark

People can also access a [www.checkitsalright.nz website] for further fire safety tips.

Follow RNZ's blog on Canterbury's Port Hill fire

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