Total fire ban in Selwyn

by Mike Isle

Weeks without rain and little prospect of a meaningful downfall in the near future have forced Fire and Emergency New Zealand to announce a total fire ban in Selwyn.

As of today, no open fires will be allowed, and all existing permits for fires are rescinded until further notice.

The district’s deputy rural fire officer Dale Wilhelm said that although some rain was forecast it was unlikely to be enough to mitigate the dry conditions throughout the district and the long-term forecast of further dry conditions means any relief would be
short-lived.

He said that all outstanding permits would be suspended, and no new permits would be issued until the district received sustained wet weather.

Barbecues can still be used without a permit.

Emergency services have been on high alert for weeks, and the forest fires in Nelson have highlighted the risk throughout the South Island. Selwyn has sent a stream of firefighters north to Nelson to help, but they will be recalled if there is an outbreak here. The Nelson outbreak is believed to have been caused by sparks from farm machinery and farmers in Selwyn are taking special care.

Dale Wilhelm said that Fire and Emergency were working closely with Federated Farmers, and farmers throughout the district were concerned about the fire danger.

However, it is not only the farming community that needs to take care.

Fire and Emergency NZ is urging everybody to avoid activities such as welding, grinding and even mowing lawns during the hottest part of the day as those activities may inadvertently cause a fire.

They say it is also sensible for people with homes near trees, scrub or dry grass to do a check of their property to ensure they have minimised the risk of a fire spreading and that they can provide clear and easy access to fire crews in the event of an emergency.

People can find tips for keeping their property safe on the Fire and Emergency New Zealand website.