Pigeon Valley Fire update 73 - 14:00 hours 05/03/2019

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Pigeon Valley Fire update 73 - 14:00 hours 05/03/2019

14:00 - Latest news on the Nelson fires. Updates will be available on the Tasman-Marlborough Fire Area Facebook page.

Nelson-Tasman area still warrants extreme caution, warns Fire and Emergency NZ

Activity at the Pigeon Valley fire site has dropped, but Fire and Emergency NZ is warning Nelson-Tasman residents that fire risk still remains extremely high due to a mixture of dry, warm and windy conditions, and utmost caution should be taken.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Ian Reade confirmed that drone flights overnight and a helicopter flight with a hand-held thermal camera this morning showed no hotspots present within 100m of the fire perimeter.

"We still have old forestry skid sites burning on the interior of the fire and these can flare up in the wind but don’t pose a problem as they are well inside the perimeter," Mr Reade said.

Crews of between 12 and 20 firefighters during the day and between two and four at night depending on the weather forecast are on site, with another four to eight people helping with picking up and recommissioning equipment left on the fireground.

"We have people patrolling the perimeter both day and night, plus surveying burning skid sites to determine the best method of dealing with them.

"Forest companies have started land preparation trials to ready the ground for replanting this winter and logging operations to salvage mature crop burnt has also commenced. This is being tightly planned in conjunction with Fire and Emergency NZ."

While the Pigeon Valley site has calmed down, the current fire danger in the Nelson area remains high and there is a total fire ban in the Nelson-Tasman area. "The danger is extreme, particularly during the hot and windy times of the day," Mr Reade said. "The total fire ban won’t be lifted until we have significant rain and the grass starts to green up."

Fire and Emergency NZ is providing daily fire risk predictions to businesses and farmers who may have spark-hazardous activities. "These are activities where steel may strike steel or stone - such as mowing, discing, grinding, welding, hot exhausts in grass and so on. The risk broadcast each day can be aligned with a set of guidelines that detail the equipment that should be carried and restrictions or consideration for the activity."

Access to sign up to the daily broadcast can be obtained via the Tasman District Councils Website or by emailing firepermit.nelsontasman@fireandemergency.nz.

"For home owners, please remember that when mowing, using chainsaws, or any other activity that may create sparks - do it on a calm, cool morning when there is dew on the ground and temperatures are lower."