A total fire ban has been imposed across Southland from midnight tonight, January 14. The ban comes in the wake of today’s 32 degree highs.
‘There is an extreme fire risk for the next two days, with the forecast for even higher temperatures as well as wind,” ,’ says Elton Smith, Southland Principal Rural Fire Officer.
“Already today we have had five vegetation fires across the region, and we’re on stand by for more over the next couple of days,
“The total fire ban means no outdoor fires are allowed, and any existing permits for fires are cancelled.’
‘The only exception is for gas BBQs – and they must only be used well away from anything that can catch fire.”
Fire and Emergency is also asking anyone who has had a recent fire, to check it again to make sure it is completely out.
‘Even fires that appear to have been out for some time can flare up when the temperature and wind gets up,” says Elton Smith.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand says the risk of a fire breaking out in Southland is extremely high, and is urging people to be extra vigilant.
Fire and Emergency Principal Rural Fire Officer Elton Smith says the hot weather forecast for this weekend and early next week means a fire could easily break out.
“The potential for strong northerly winds, gusting 20-25km per hour, over the weekend coupled with very warm temperatures of about 30 degrees, will dry vegetation and other material, making them easier to ignite,” he says.
“Strong winds will fan embers back into life from previous burns, putting surrounding property at risk. Fires that are normally easy to control during lower fire dangers, become very difficult during high and extreme fire dangers due to their volatile nature.”
A cool southerly change and rain is forecast for Tuesday, but Elton Smith says that is unlikely to reduce the fire danger as it will dry very quickly.
He’s asking people who have burnt in the last month to make sure their fires are completely out, as the conditions could fan a fire back to life and spread embers to other dry vegetation.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand is also asking people to extinguish any existing fires, and not to light any more over the next four days, including charcoal barbeques, braziers, camp fires, and incinerators.
Gas fires are allowed but people should be extra careful not to light them near long grass or anything flammable.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the summer with their families, and that includes our volunteers, so the more people can do to prevent unnecessary fires, the better,” Mr Smith says.
- Southland received 60-70% of its normal rainfall this spring
- Invercargill has received 4-5mm of rain in the last month
- 2017 was the driest year since 1901 (Information via Andy Fraser 45 South Weather Services)
- Fires that are out
- Check they are out
- Turn the area over to ensure there is no heat left in the pile
- Apply water and cool if any residual heat
- Extinguish them
- Rake out, apply water and cool down
Thinking of lighting a fire
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