Dylan is the deputy editor of the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Heat on, so take no risks with fire

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Weather analysts have confirmed what many of us already knew - that temperatures this summer have been climbing higher than usual.

As we reported yesterday, Tauranga was the warmest city in the country last month, experiencing its second hottest December since records began in 1913.

The average temperature in Tauranga for December was a balmy 19.4C, which is 1.4C higher than normal, Niwa National Climate Centre figures show.

Te Puke had an average temperature of 18.4C - the town's fourth hottest December since 1973.

I've been enjoying the hot weather so far, making the most of our stunning beaches to cool down when the heat gets a bit too much.

Across the Tasman it's a very different story, where Australia's "dome of heat" has become so intense the temperatures are off the charts - literally.

The Bureau of Meteorology's weather forecasting chart has added new colours - deep purple and pink - to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50C.

The range now extends to 54C - well above the all-time record temperature of 50.7C recorded on January 2, 1960, at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia.

Firefighters battled more than 100 wildfires across the southeast of the country this week, with more than 20 deemed out of control.

In Tauranga the fire risk is sitting between high and extreme, which is about standard for this time of year.

Thankfully our fire brigades have not had to deal with anything nearing the infernos raging in New South Wales.

However, the devastation caused by these fires is a good reminder that fire restrictions are in place here and they need to be respected.

Permits are required for all outside fires in rural areas until the end of April and those who light fires in rural areas that get out of control could be liable for the costs of extinguishing them.

Given that forecasters are predicting the hot weather will continue through to February, conditions are only going to get drier and the risk of scrub fires will increase.

In tinder-dry conditions, scrub fires can sweep across the landscape, putting homes and lives at risk and - for this reason alone - extra caution is needed.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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