Fire and water a “crazy” mix

by Mike Isle

“Not crazy, but not good either.” That is the concise and current condition of the fire risk in Selwyn according to principal rural fire officer Bruce Janes.

Janes says that recent rains have diluted the fire risk somewhat. However, the overall condition remains high, and in such areas as Southbridge and West Melton — the fire risk is very high.

Janes, who has just returned from a two-week stint in Australia fighting the bushfires there, says the risk in Selwyn remains tenuous and even one day in the high 30s with strong winds could return the condition to extreme risk.

He said that emergency services are still asking people to take care with open fires.

“It is not the time to take the foot off the accelerator. We need to take all the precautions we can to both reduce the risk of a fire starting or to minimise its effects if one starts.”

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand website includes a wealth of information about how to assess and reduce the fire risk around homes and rural properties.

A total fire ban, other than those permitted, is in place for all of Selwyn.

Meanwhile, the Selwyn District Council is encouraging people to use water wisely to avoid water restrictions.

It says that through good planning and investment in water supplies, the council is in a good position to meet increased water demand during summer, and there is no immediate need for mandatory water restrictions.

However, if demand for water increases during summer then water restrictions may be introduced requiring households to avoid watering lawns at specific times, council infrastructure group manager Murray Washington said.

“Water supplies are often placed under pressure during summer as many people decide to water their lawns and gardens at the same time.

“So, we’re encouraging people to think about their water use.

“If everyone plays their part, we should be able to avoid restrictions and provide water at good pressure all summer long.”

To help this happen, the council is recommending people limit garden and lawn watering to after 9pm, to keep it away from peak usage times and ensure the sun doesn’t quickly evaporate the used water.