Parched peril as big dry lingers

By Emma Ross Smith

Fire services are on edge as the "big dry" continues in Hawke's Bay.

Although Hastings District had a restricted fire season from December 3, followed by a total fire ban from December 14, fires keep occurring.

Metservice reports indicate the dry spell will continue for a few weeks, leaving Hawke's Bay with an even higher fire risk.

Hastings District Council Principal Rural Fire Officer Trevor Mitchell said the dry conditions hadn't eased significantly, despite a small amount of rain in the past two weeks.

"The undergrowth is still tinder dry and even the smallest spark could ignite a major fire," Mr Mitchell said.

"It is vitally important that all residents understand the total fire ban covers the whole district.

"There may be the perception that the ban only covers the rural areas but it applies equally to the urban areas."

In some cases, urban residents had lit rubbish fires in their backyards, leaving the fire service to tend to them rather than the major fires.

"Firefighters will respond to these calls and this unnecessarily ties up emergency resources and takes volunteers away from their own work and families," Mr Mitchell said.

People throughout the region were encouraged to heed the total fire ban and to dial 111 if they saw any smoke or fire.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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