CHB's total fire ban likely to spread

By LAWRENCE GULLERY


The Central Hawke's Bay District Council has declared a total fire ban, with the rest of the Bay's councils likely to follow.

CHB's emergency management and bylaws officer Bruce Kitto said the fire ban would come into force this Friday. It prohibits all fires in the open air, including solid barbecues, braziers, incinerators and fireworks.

"We're getting a lot of complaints about the fire restrictions because people see a lot of green grass around and think there's no danger. But it's all very dry underneath. At the moment we are sitting in extreme or very high fire risk conditions.

"If we had a fire today it would burn well and we would need a lot of resources to get it out."

Mr Kitto said the danger was compounded by river and dam levels around the district being low. "We rely on those waterways to help fight fires. If someone has got a swimming pool we can use that, but in the case of a grass fire in rural areas we need to access dams and creeks."

A number of small fires had acted as a catalyst for the decision.

"We had a grass fire at the back of Otane recently in long, green, lush grass one metre tall. It may have been started by a cigarette and it burnt 80 metres quickly before we could stop it."

Mr Kitto said the council hoped the public would understand the need for the total fire ban.

"This is going to upset some people who want to have a barbecue or hangi for Christmas. But the danger they could be putting themselves in, and others, exceeds the disappointment."

The councils of Hastings, Napier and Wairoa indicated a move to a total fire ban across the province by Christmas was a real possibility.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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