Heat dries up fire permits

By Amy McGillivray

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Bay fire danger readings are very high to extreme because of hot, dry weather - and things look set to get worse before they get better.

Tough restrictions have this week been imposed on the issuing of fire permits.

Western Bay Moana Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Barry Low said the fine weather forecast for the rest of the month would only exacerbate the problem and could lead to a total fire ban.

"Until we get some decent rain it's not going to improve," he said. "We're likely to stop issuing permits in the near future if this continues."

In the worst case, a total fire ban would be imposed which would mean all permits already issued would be cancelled.

Currently no permits were being issued for fires that were not considered absolutely necessary, Mr Low said. This included camp fires, bonfires, household and garden rubbish fires.

"Every day that goes by that we don't get rain increases the risk.

Wind is probably our biggest problem. It dries out any moisture that there is pretty quickly."

He acknowledged a total fire ban was a major step. "It's an agricultural area and a lot of farmers rely on burning."

Where a permit is approved and issued for a land fire, it will be valid for a period of three or four days only.

People who light permitted fires should ensure all permit conditions are followed, the fire is kept to a manageable size, and extra care is taken. In particular, the fire must be attended at all times, Mr Low said.

"My message to people at the moment is to ask yourself: 'Is it absolutely vital that I have to light this fire?' If not, don't even bother applying for a licence because we probably won't give it to you."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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