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Dry Northland means high fire risk


Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging Northland residents to think twice about lighting rubbish fires as temperatures soar and grass and vegetation dries out.

Northland fire crews have attended several scrub and rubbish fires this month. 

If the weather remains this hot and dry there will be a total fire ban in Northland within the next couple of weeks.

Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Clinton Lyall says it’s important people check their local fire status to see if they need a permit to light an outdoor fire.

“Northland is getting dry and things can quickly get out of control. Even though the grass seems to be fairly green…it’s deceptive. It’s the hot temperatures and the low humidity in the later parts of the day driven by wind.”

In the Far North, a scrub fire in Taipa last week burned through one hectare of land, and a huge fire in Matawaia, south of Kaikohe, burned through 60 hectares of bush and took four days to extinguish.

On January 5 fire crews also attended several unpermitted rubbish fires, including one at Taemaro Bay between Hihi and Taupo Bay, which put 10 houses at risk.

Deputy Principal Fire Officer Wayne Martin said appliances from Taupo Bay and Mangonui arrived in time to put out the hot spots of the rubbish fire that had “got away”.

“With the conditions at the moment, particularly since Christmas, we haven’t had any rain and we’ve had high temperatures and afternoon winds. Northland is drying out.

“People need to start being more vigilant around getting permits, and question whether they really need to be burning rubbish at this time of year.”
It is currently a restricted fire season in Northland, which means residents wanting to light an outdoor fire must get a permit.

Metservice predicts a hot and dry January, and Wayne says these conditions are a concern.

A wet spring in Northland caused lots of vegetation growth, and the long grass is now starting to dry out and become a fire hazard. He encourages people to keep their lawns and paddocks mowed.

“The grass is starting to dry and the chances of a fast-moving fire in grass and scrub is starting to rise.”

 Outdoor fire permits are free and can be obtained online at checkitsalright.nz or by phoning 0800 658 628.

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