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Total fire ban in region



Wairarapa is now in a prohibited fire season, meaning there is a total fire ban on outdoor fires across the region, and all previously granted permits are cancelled.

The ban came into effect at 8am on Tuesday. Fire and Emergency’s Phill Wishnowsky said the aim of the ban was to reduce the risk of further fires as the hot weather meant Wairarapa was now very dry.

Helicopters were brought in to help contain a large scrub fire in Cape Palliser. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

“We have a large vegetation fire burning near Cape Palliser lighthouse which is likely to keep us busy for a few days. We also have Wairarapa-based resources deployed to the Tangimoana fire in the Manawatu,” the principal rural fire officer of Wairarapa and Tararua district said.

“Recent and current weather is elevating our fire danger profile rapidly and, with our current activities, we do not want any further fires.”

The Tararua district was still scheduled to move into a restricted fire season at 8am on Friday, February 12, he said.

It was initially thought Wairarapa would move into a prohibited fire season at the same time, if the expected southerly was dry and the region was missed by a tropical storm.

“An ex-tropical storm is tracking towards the east of the North Island for Thursday/Friday next week, but these systems can just as easily slide by us,” Wishnowsky said last week, before the ban being moved forward.

“Recent weather conditions have continued to elevate our fire danger across the whole district. Already we are limiting the issuing of fire permits within Wairarapa, with permits being issued for locations and fire types where the risk is low.

“Conditions across the Tararua district are variable, but the overall fire danger profile means we will declare a restricted fire season [fire by permit only] across the Tararua district on Friday.”

These changes were expected to be reviewed in the case of significant rain, however, due to the increased risk of fire and the strain on Fire and Emergency resources, the ban was brought forward to Tuesday.

Aside from the ban on open-fires, Wishnowsky said those thinking of undertaking spark-generating activities such as grinding and welding should consider the conditions and fire danger before starting.

“The more aware of the risk of fire our communities are, the less likely we are to have to deal with large fires like what we have at Cape Palliser.”

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