Fire & Emergency New Zealand

Serious fire risk across South Island this weekend

Serious fire risk across South Island this weekend

People in the South Island are being encouraged to assist Fire and Emergency by reducing the risk of sparking an unwanted fire this weekend.

While Fire and Emergency crews from across New Zealand have been busy in the North Island responding to the devastating aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, a lot of the South Island is still very dry, particularly in Otago.

The fire danger is forecast to be extreme at times in some areas, particularly on Sunday, with the most concern during the hours of 5pm-7pm in parts of Otago. Additionally, large areas of the South Island will be at a high, or very high, risk level this weekend.

The majority of the South Island is in a restricted fire season, while most of the Otago District and parts of Nelson-Marlborough are in a prohibited season.

Fire and Emergency’s National Wildfire Manager Tim Mitchell said there are some simple steps people can take to ensure they aren’t responsible for starting an unwanted fire.

"Activities such as using lawnmowers, weed eaters, angle grinders and chainsaws, where there is a likelihood of steel creating sparks from contact with stones or other hard surfaces, can lead to unwanted fires. Using vehicles in long dead grass, particularly quad bikes and motorbikes, can also cause this.

"If you can, delay these activities until we have had rain. If it’s essential work, only carry out these activities early in the morning when there are cooler temperatures and no wind.

"Keep an eye on the forecast, avoid windy conditions or predictions of wind in the forecast. Have the ability to put out a fire if you start one - water under high pressure is best such as a garden hose and or a 9kg water or foam fire extinguisher. For some activities wetting down the surrounding area before you undertake your activity is a good idea."

Larger fires require more resources. As an emergency services organisation, Fire and Emergency has contingencies in place for these types of events, but we do ask that the public follow all the fire safety advice and know what fire season they are in so it minimises the chances of a large vegetation fire happening.

If you are planning to light a fire, it’s really important to head to to make sure this is permitted. This tool has everything you need to tell you how, when, and if you can light a fire.