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Wairarapa moves to a total fire ban

A total ban on fires starts in Wairarapa on Monday. PHOTO/FILE

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All fires will be banned throughout Wairarapa from Monday.

The dry spell has heightened risks across the area, and Thursday’s rain was too little to dampen fuel or refill water reserves.

Principal rural fire officer Nick Pyatt said fires had been allowed through permits this summer. But an outright prohibition was needed now.

“There’s no doubt in people’s mind when they see the total fire ban signs,” he said.

“We will review it, but we will need a consistent application of rain, and change of weather. It’s not so much grass, it’s the heavier fuel, such as trees.

“If people look in their gardens now, they’ll be seeing their smaller shrubs wilt and suffer, and that’s no different with larger vegetation. That just gives an indication of how dry it is out there.

“We need prolonged rain to help us.”

Pyatt said people should be prepared with water, where possible, when using machinery around long grass, such as mowing their lawns or even driving a ute.

He said anyone who sees smoke should call 111 immediately.

Thursday’s rainfall was too little to make any difference, MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said.

Adams said it was unlikely there would be any significant rainfall in Wairarapa until the second weekend of February at the earliest.

“It’s great for the lawn to get a wee bit of water, but there’s not a lot more coming.

“We’re just staying in warm, dry weather. I wouldn’t call the few showers we’ve had a significant break in the trend, and it’s going to stay dry.”

Winds would stay northwesterly, which was no good for ground moisture, Adams said.

“Basically, there’s not a lot of rain on the horizon.”

The fire ban comes after councils throughout Wairarapa restricted the use of water outdoors.

In Masterton, garden watering is the focus. Residents should avoid unnecessary water use. For Masterton, washing of houses and cars is not covered by this restriction, in line with the water conservation strategy agreed by the council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Carterton District Council announced a full water ban. It allows for 2500 cubic metres per day.

The council is now providing water from its Frederick St bore field as the Kaipatangata stream, Carterton’s main water source, is not flowing. The bore field is often flushed for public health reasons.

Water restrictions are detailed on the council’s website, or on the water restriction wheel at the Carters store on High St.

People in all three South Wairarapa towns of Featherston, Greytown and Martinborough should not use water outside for garden watering, washing vehicles, driveways, or houses, the district council said. Water indoors should also be conserved where possible.

Tararua District Council has issued a total hose pipe ban, excluding Eketahuna. In Eketahuna, hoses may only be used on alternate days, meaning houses with even street numbers on even days, and those with odd street numbers on odd days.

Emergency use of a hose to protect life and property is exempt from water restrictions.

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