Bay fire lighters may face prosecution

By Amy McGillivray

People who illegally lit fires over the summer months could face a hefty bill.

Western Bay Moana Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Barry Low said the fire season was coming to an end and he would now decide whether those responsible would be prosecuted or billed.

"It does cost money to put a fire out so some people are going to find it's going to hurt their pocket."

The cost of deploying a truck with a fulltime crew was $600 per hour and a volunteer truck was $400 per hour. "That cost will be passed on," he said.

"That's something that people don't realise that in a rural area fires do cost."

Mr Low said he was considering prosecuting one man who had lit multiple fires during the ban and received multiple warnings.

He could not yet say how many breaches of the ban there had been but there had been no major blazes in the area.

"During a ban we ask people to report smoke and fire whenever they see it.

"It's supposed to limit the number of fires but it also increases the number of callouts." Most people were well aware of the fire ban, he said.

"We hear all sorts of excuses. Basically, a lot of people have no excuse whatsoever.

"They know that there's a ban in place."

The total fire ban in place in the Western Bay since February will be lifted at 6am on Monday.

"We're getting some reasonably heavy dews overnight. We're getting lower night-time temperatures, lower daytime temperatures and a bit of rainfall coming through."

The weather readings from Tauranga airport are still sitting in the extreme range.

Tauranga City Council has not yet made a decision on when the city's fire ban will be lifted but is expected to follow suit.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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