Long grass in the red zone 'a fire risk'

SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2013

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Abandoned properties in Christchurch's residential red zone are having their grass mowed to reduce the fire risk, officials say.

The safety of red-zoned areas has concerned some residents, after a recent series of fires in Canterbury.

In a comment on press. co.nz, an Avonside resident said she was concerned about the safety of empty red-zoned houses near her property.

"The grass is window-height and water was cut off months ago [so] a stray match would set off this area too."

The resident had been mowing the abandoned lawns for the past two years, but had now been told she could not do so as she would be trespassing.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) said it was regularly talking to the Fire Service to ensure that properties in the red zone were not at risk.

Cera residential red-zone contracts manager Tim Pow said the main focus had been keeping lawns in check, with the "typical Christchurch summer" of dewy nights and warm days exacerbating the problem.

"The main thing for us is to keep on top of the grass. It keeps growing day and night; it just isn't stopping," he said.

Crews from City Care, Treetech and the Ministry of Social Development were mowing the grass regularly.

Pow said Cera had a "proactive maintenance programme" for high-risk areas, mowing properties near main thoroughfares and green-zoned homes at least once every seven weeks.

Other areas with a smaller risk were mowed as houses were knocked down, he said.

Pow said the mowing regime would continue until the end of next month.

Residents who were concerned about a potential fire risk in the red zone should contact Cera or the city council to ensure it was dealt with, he said.

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- The Press

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