Fire chiefs monitor conditions as grass dries

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2013

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Dargaville & Districts

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It's open fire season for Kaipara but officials are keeping a close watch on the fast-changing conditions.

Principal rural fire officer Kevin Ihaka says restrictions could be coming.

"At the moment the fire weather conditions are not extreme but on the days we're getting high winds it makes the fires spread faster and create more heat," he says. "We are getting brief periods of dangerous conditions."

He says the winds, humidity levels and grass conditions will be monitored by stations around the district.

"As the grass cures and it goes brown there's a lot more dead material and that's generally what starts the fire."

He says mid-January through to March is usually the worst period.

Dargaville fire chief Jeff Palmer says firefighters have only attended two scrub blazes in the past year.

Four trucks and two tankers spent a couple of hours dealing to the most recent one in Clarkes Bay, he says.

"We've been pretty lucky, farmers are all pretty switched on."

He warns people to be cautious with rubbish fires in particular.

"If you are deemed to be the cause of the fire you will get a bill for the cost of putting it out."

A major blaze in 2010 licked through more than 200 hectares of Pouto forest, costing an estimated $2 million.

Mr Palmer says the cause still remains unknown.

Far North already has a restricted fire season. Visit havingafire.org.nz to check Kaipara's fire season status or for advice on fires.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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