Total fire ban in South Taranaki

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
ROD Fire
FIRE BAN

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Tinder-dry conditions have South Taranaki's firefighters and farmers searching the skies for rain.

A total fire ban is in place for the bulk of the district including incinerators, wood or coal barbecues and hangi.

The ban covers Hawera, Eltham, Rahotu, Opunake and everywhere in between.

Only gas-fired barbecues are allowed.

Principal rural fire officer John Gunn said residents needed to be aware that if they light a fire the full costs of fighting it would be charged to the property owner.

"The whole district is very, very dry," he said.

"Fighting fires puts a major drain on the district's water supplies, which are already under severe stress. We don't need to be using water to put out fires if we can avoid it."

MetService forecaster Richard Finnie said next few days should be dry but there should be a "spot of rain" by Monday.

However, they expected another high to cross the district soon after that, he said.

Kaponga farmer and volunteer chief firefighter Jason Hurley said he was preparing for the worst.

"It is starting to become a bit of a concern," he said.

"What's in front [of the cattle] at the moment is just wilting away but it's still green."

Mr Hurley said he was now sourcing feed from outside of the district because if they didn't get rain soon his farm would be "bone dry". "And the last thing we need right now is to be out there fighting fires."

Hawera farmer and mayor Ross Dunlop said as long as the rural community was prepared they should get through.

"While we don't want these dry spells, this one has actually started quite late," he said.

"So if we can just get through the next six weeks it's probably not going to be that detrimental. Most farmers are ready to cope with this."

All current fire permits are suspended and restrictions remain in place until further notice.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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