Selwyn authorities ban fires
A fire ban has been declared in the Selwyn District after a month of hot, dry conditions and four blazes that threatened people and property.
No outdoor fires can now be lit in the region, and the burning of crop stubble - until now the only fires allowed without a permit - is also banned.
Gas barbecues with a high-pressure water source at hand are allowed, but not charcoal barbecues.
Selwyn principal rural fire officer Wilson Brown said the frequent blazes were taking a toll on firefighters.
''We recognise that restrictions on the ability of farmers to burn crop residue will be frustrating, but our primary focus must be on reducing the fire risk in the district in order to protect lives and property,'' he said.
''We also need to ensure that our local fire crews have the opportunity to have a break.
"We need to consider their health and safety and also the fact that they have to drop their own work commitments to carry out this important community service.
''We need to ensure that we do everything we can to allow them to rest and recover from recent fires so that they are ready for action when needed.''
Selwyn has had four significant fires this month - the first on January 10 at Broadfields, followed by fires on January 10 at Thompsons Rd, Range Rd on January 19 and at the army's West Melton rifle range on Wednesday.
A fifth today at Prebbleton was quickly contained but came close to destroying a house.
Eight fire engines were called to the fire in Trents Rd at 12.50pm, but a Fire Service spokesman said crews hit the fire "hard and fast".
All fire permits issued by the Selwyn District Council during the restricted fire season have been cancelled.
Brown said the council would review the ban regularly and would lift the restrictions as soon as it was considered safe.
Fire risk can be reduced by:
- Keeping the grass green, mown or grazed around your home.
- Keeping a hose connected that can reach around the house.
- Ensuring that your property has an accessway at least four metres wide and high so that a fire engine can get in and out
- Storing firewood and other flammable materials away from the house
- Regularly checking and maintaining machinery and equipment so it is safe to operate.
- Disposing of ashes safely in a metal container and using approved incinerators.
- Keeping grass away from under hedges.