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Call to postpone rubbish burning

Fire crews at Pirinoa on Wednesday, battling a rubbish fire that got out of control. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

KAREN COLTMAN
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Autumn gusts have scaled several Wairarapa burn-ups into uncontrolled blazes this week, prompting a warning from firefighters.

Since the complete fire ban was lifted this month, several home-based rubbish burn-ups have got out of control, forcing firefighters out of their bubbles.

Now, deputy rural fire officer for Wairarapa and Tararua Harry Howard has asked the public to consider “holding off’ burning rubbish during Alert Level 4 and 3.

On Wednesday, two burn-ups at Pirinoa required help from firefighters.

One fire was swept up into pine trees after taking hold in pine needles and the other set a row of toetoe alight and spread up into poplar trees.

There were similar fires later that day in Greytown and Featherston, both requiring fire service attendance.

Howard said people were getting caught out by the wind gusts but also some people were having burn-ups too close to greenery.

“I would ask that people consider more carefully whether they really need to have outdoor fires right now during the lockdown, because we are coming out of our bubbles to assist and, really, I reckon these fires could be avoided right now,” Howard said.

“Toetoe is dry all the time and catches fire easily and the pine needles under the trees catch fire rapidly too.

“People need to be thoughtful about where they are having their rubbish burn-up.”

Howard acknowledged it was the time of year when people tidied up their properties but said there would be lots of time post-lockdown for burn-ups before next summer.

He asked that if people really had to start a burn-up to keep a look out for sparks and embers that come off the fire.

MetService meteorologist Andrew James said autumn winds were the mixing of warm and cold air that came off the Tararua Range.

He said the winds picked up speed in the afternoon.

“They come in gusts in the afternoon because the rising warmth from the ground gets warmed by the sun and rises up further to meet the colder autumn winds and then you get instability,” he said.

“The morning may look calm, but it is good to keep in mind that autumn is an unstable mix of warm and cold air.”

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