Selwyn on alert in spite of rain

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Fire risk in Canterbury's parched Selwyn District remains high despite four days of rain.

The area received about 20 millimetres of rain this week, helping to ease the dry conditions that sparked several fires around West Melton and Prebbleton.

Selwyn principal rural fire officer Wilson Brown said the rain was a "welcome relief" but was not enough to move Selwyn out of the danger zone.

"You need sustained rain for the grass to green up again and for the soil to have some moisture in it, and that's not happened because of the recent rainfall and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

Fire crews were impressed with the way the fire ban, put in place by Selwyn District Council two weeks ago, had been observed. "We've had two or three callouts but they were for crop burnoffs and a tractor fire.

"But people out here have had enough of fires, so everyone is being cautious.

"Every time someone sees smoke they call 111."

The council would review the ban in the next week or so, he said.

"If we do change it, then it will go back to a restricted level where people will need a permit and we'll be very strict on permits."

Last month's fires had taken their toll, Brown said.

"It's tough on the crews because it's tiring, and they have to spend time away from their families, but it's also tough on resources."

Some equipment had been damaged as a result of "continual use", pumps needed repairs and fire engines needed servicing, Brown said.

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- The Press

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