Parts of Nelson Tasman move to a prohibited fire season

6:45 am on 17 February 2024
Marlborough has been in a restricted fire season since December 22nd, with a permit required for any open air fires. Samantha Gee

File image. Photo: RNZ / Samantha Gee

The Coastal, Waimea and Nelson North zones in Nelson Tasman move to a prohibited fire season from today, until further notice.

A prohibited fire season means no outdoor fires are allowed and all fire permits are suspended.

Fire and Emergency district manager Grant Haywood said persistent hot and dry weather, above average winds and below average rainfall has increased the fire danger.

"We've had a heavy build-up of grass across these areas following the wet winter and spring which has now dried out and is posing a significant fire risk," he said.

"These are the conditions where wildfires start easily and can quickly get very difficult to control.

"For example, the recent Lee Valley fire on 7 February started from sparks igniting roadside grass and then spreading into forestry."

The prohibited fire season should reduce the likelihood of unwanted fires, however, the region had a history of large, fast-moving fires in the area at this time of year, Haywood said.

"We're asking people to make sure they are prepared," he said.

It was especially important people living in rural areas and on the edges of towns took precautions because of the potential for fires to start and spread quickly to adjacent properties.

Haywood appealed for people not to undertake work 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," he said.

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 website for further fire safety tips.

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