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Grass fire ‘bloody stupid’

By Beckie Wilson

[email protected]

A rural fire officer has described the actions of a man who lit a rubbish fire on Friday as “bloody stupid”.

The rubbish fire on Hikunui Rd near Kahutara got out of control and spread through surrounding dry grass on Friday morning, only days before the region is hit with an annual fire ban.

“I’m very irate that something so bloody stupid has happened,” said Porky Sexton, South Wairarapa District Council fire officer and the Wairarapa Rural Fire officer.

“We are pulling out volunteers who don’t get paid, for something so stupid.

“It was used as a rubbish pile, and was lit to burn off in the morning.

“It would’ve taken about 15 to 20 minutes to burn through the knee-high grass and the bank.”

The owner of the property admitted to lighting the fire at around 10.30am on Friday.

The fire spread about 250m down the bank of grass and bush, and about 400m either side of the rubbish pile. About twenty-two firefighters from two Featherston utilities attended the fire, along with one vehicle each from Martinborough and Masterton, and a water tank from Gray Bros Ltd.

Mr Sexton said current conditions were too risky to take any chances lighting fires.

The blaze took about two hours to extinguish, but was to be monitored all afternoon in case the dried grass re-ignited from the wind.

Next week Wairarapa fire restrictions will be introduced, with permits required in rural areas.

“If we don’t get any rain it’s going to get pretty serious. That’s what we’re backing on,” Mr Sexton said.

“The risk is just getting too great and the winds are getting too unpredictable.

“If we keep getting the winds and everything drying out, we will go into a complete fire ban across the region.”

Rural permits can be applied for through the Wairarapa Rural Fire District website.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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