OPINION: I am the accused ''irresponsible landowner'' concerned in regards to your article ''Landowner ticked off after fire spreads in 50-knot winds'' (January 17).
Firstly, I'd like to thank the volunteers from the three surrounding brigades, Lumsden, Mossburn and Dipton, for their attendance to the flareup from a previously lit fire - which, I might add, never ''jumped the river''.
Secondly, I'd like to point out that, contrary to what the officer from the Southern Rural Fire Authority would have readers believe, the fire was lit in very favourable weather conditions, five days earlier than he accused, after we had received 50ml of rain with negligible wind in the long- range forecast.
The Oreti River was running just under a metre above normal and falling from a peak of 2.1m above normal two days earlier.
We also had two 20-tonne diggers, and an industrial loader on site with two more diggers and a helicopter on standby.
If the officer believes an old hayseed like me was stupid enough to light the fire at the time and in the conditions as he suggested, then I think he should hand his job over to any one of the obviously far better-qualified Lumsden volunteers, who attended the fire four days before I'm supposed to have lit it.
Abridged - Editor