A restricted fire season is in place

Fire risk is extreme

by Ann van Engelen

With warm and windy weather forecast for the coming weeks during a very dry summer, Fire and Emergency New Zealand has declared an extreme fire risk. It warns both urban and rural residents to stay vigilant.

A restricted fire season is currently in place across North Canterbury and the Selwyn District.

“We are entering what is traditionally the height of the fire season, and everyone will be incredibly mindful of the situation that has occurred in Australia these past months,” said FENZ integrated risk manager Darrin Woods.

“While parts of fire-ravaged Australia are now receiving much-needed rain, we are not likely to receive any of that in the short to medium-term. Our fuel conditions continue to dry out and the look of the hills around Christchurch and the inland foothills is of an increasingly brown landscape as grass seed heads mature and cure. In many areas, you will still find a green base to the grass sward, but this is rapidly drying off.

“We need high levels of vigilance to ensure that we don’t get any fire starts, especially during periods of elevated temperatures or strong winds. People need to make sure that their properties are maintained and clear of long grass.

“If you need to do work around your property to reduce the fire risk, avoid doing it when there are high temperatures and strong winds because a spark from a lawn mower or a scrub-cutter can easily start a fire. Additional precautions also need to be taken if you are grinding or welding.

“Make sure you wet down the surrounding area and remain on-site for a time after you have finished the job to ensure that a fire doesn’t start. In recent weeks, we have had a number of fires that have been sparked by people welding or grinding.”