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Fire ban lifted


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With the Wairarapa district having moved into a restricted fire season yesterday, Fire and Emergency chiefs across the region are saying they’re reasonably happy the way the public has behaved during a two-month fire ban.

However, there is still a minority out there who are breaking the rules.

Fire and Emergency lifted a total fire ban at 8am yesterday morning that had been in place in the Wairarapa district since January 20, returning to a restricted fire season, where permits would be needed.

The Tararua district – which wasn’t affected by the fire ban – would remain in a restricted fire season.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Phill Wishnowsky said rainfall and cooler nights had reduced the fire danger enough to remove the total fire ban.

However, he acknowledged underlying conditions were still dry enough with areas of dead dry vegetation around the region to pose a risk.

“The conditions remain dry and there is still a real fire risk, which is why we still need a restricted fire season,” Wishnowsky said.

“Anyone wanting to light an outdoor fire and burn crop stubble will need to apply for a permit. Anyone with a fire permit will need to follow the conditions on the permit to minimise any risk of it getting out of control.”

Masterton Station Officer Kevin Smith said “most people had been pretty good” during the fire ban, but there was always the odd person who was playing up when it came to lighting a fire.

“There haven’t really been many illegal fires as such which was great,” he said.

“Most people have played by the rules, not everybody, but most people.”

Carterton Chief Fire officer Bryan Styles said overall [Carterton] was happy, but there had also been some hiccups in the prohibited season.

“Most of [the public] have been good, but some have just completely ignored it,” he said.

“We had one where someone lit a fire because it had rained so thought it would be okay to light a fire. We spent a good part of that night and some of [the next day] putting that one out.

“We just need people to keep checking if they can light a fire because they’re obviously not.”

Greytown chief fire officer Steve Meyrick, said, “generally, 99.9 per cent of people did the right thing and it’s been a nice quiet period, but there’s always the odd one that claims ignorance, but generally it’s been pretty good”.

Besides the big Cape Palliser bushfire that made national headlines, Martinborough chief fire officer Jake Hawkins said residents were respectful of the fire ban in place.

“As a whole we have found the public to be good with the fire ban,” he said.

“We’ve had a few calls come in, like the Ngawi job [Cape Palliser bushfire], but everyone has been pretty respectful about the total fire ban.”

Featherston chief fire officer Colin McKenna reiterated the lack of compliance among residents to keep with the rules.

“I’m happy enough, but unfortunately you get the people that don’t [comply],” he said.

“In fact, we had two incidents [Thursday] of people not complying, lighting fires in the open, and one in particular was in much long grass. People still need to remember it’s still very dry out there.

“I’m not sure if we’re too early getting it back on but I guess we’ll find out.”

  • Go to www.checkitsalright.nz and follow the instructions to apply for a permit.

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