Care urged as fire danger climbs

CHE BAKER
Last updated 11:47 05/12/2013

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People in the Queenstown Lakes District are being urged to be careful while mowing or doing other outdoor activities that can cause sparks after several vegetation fires this week.

Dry conditions in the Wanaka area have increased the risk that a fire could spread quickly.

Department of Conservation Wanaka community relations manager Annette Grieve said it was investigating a fire in the East Matukituki Valley, near Hester Penney Creek, in Mt Aspiring National Park, on Monday which burnt more than 100 hectares of beech trees and tussock.

It was believed the fire was started near the East Matukituki track and a man seen in the area was interviewed. Helicopters were needed to put out the fire, which appeared to have been caused by an unpermitted campfire.

The fire flared up on Tuesday afternoon, but hot spots were controlled yesterday by fire crews.

Two smaller vegetation fires were reported around Tarras and Lake Hawea yesterday, with one burning more than 100 square metres.

The Tarras fire brigade responded to a rural fire in Cemetery Rd and Ardgour Rd just after 12.20pm.

The Lake Hawea fire brigade and the Luggate tanker were called to a small vegetation fire in Kane Rd, Hawea Flat, near the Windmill corner, about 2.30pm. It was under control a short time later.

Queenstown Lakes District Council principal rural fire officer Gordon Bailey said it was likely the restricted fire season, in which people could get a permit to light fires, would come to an end within the next few days.

"The risk is getting higher. People need to be careful when they are outdoors mowing or doing other things that cause sparks," Mr Bailey said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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