Rain not enough to lessen risks, authority says
Despite the recent rain, fire restrictions implemented by the Southern Rural Fire Authority on Saturday are still in place.
The Gore area is in a restricted fire season, which means people need a permit to light large open-air fires.
Authority community and education co-ordinator Sally Chesterfield said the recent rain made people think it was fine to light large fires.
However, dried vegetation took a long time to regain moisture and could easily catch fire.
“The rain has brought the danger down a little but as soon as we get a bit of wind, that can all change,” Miss Chesterfield said.
People needed to think about whether what they were burning was appropriate for the season, she said. “It is easy for people to think they can burn big logs because it has been wet.”
According to the Southern Rural Fire Authority’s website, there are some exemptions in a restricted fire season.
People can light solid fuel barbecues, braziers, campfires (50cm x 50cm to keep warm or cook on), hangi, hedge trimmings (under 2m x 2m and burn out in a few hours), incinerators and offal holes.
The authority had waited as long as possible to put restrictions in place, she said.
The Southland summer wind had dried out the land, she said.
If people did light fires that complied with the restrictions, they should watch the site after the fire was out.
If there was heat in the ground from a fire and it rained, a crust would form over the pile and as soon as the wind picked up, the crust could crack and scatter embers.
“It’s the heat left in the ground that catches fire.”
If people are unsure about what they are allowed to burn or need to get a fire permit, they should call the Southern Rural Fire Authority on 0800 77 66 63.
There is more information on the Gore District Council website and the Southern Rural Fire website.