Fire restrictions apply to beaches

By Astrid Austin

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With temperatures reaching well into the 30s, people are asked to stay vigilant around fires and respect restrictions in place.

The warning from fire officials comes after a large scrub fire at Poraiti kept crew busy from about 1.30pm. At about 3.45pm emergency services were diverted to the second blaze involving a carport and a white jeep at Lanark Cr in Tamatea.

The dry, hot and windy conditions have prompted Bay councils to bring in fire restrictions.

The entire Wairoa District is now under a restricted fire season.

Wairoa District Council rural fire officer Paul van Dorrestein said it was crucial that people remained alert to make sure they kept themselves and the community safe from any unnecessary risk from fire.

"What we have also done, by declaring a restricted fire season across the entire district, is to impose a total fire ban on all the district's beaches.

"Under no circumstances can an open fire be lit on any beach in the district.

"The reason we've imposed a total fire ban on beaches is that some fires provide a significant risk to surrounding dunes and properties.

"It only takes one ember in tinder-dry and windy conditions and then we have a big problem on our hands," Mr van Dorrestein said.

A restricted fire season is already being enforced by Hastings District Council, meaning fires cannot be lit in the open without permits.

Hastings principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell said the conditions were being monitored.

"We are reassessing the restrictions on a regular basis.

"On Monday, we will assess if we need to put a total fire ban in place."

Since the fire restrictions have been introduced, there have been a reasonable number of callout, he said.

"There have been half-a-dozen callouts - all of them were unpermitted or accidents," Mr Mitchell said.

Last week, a gas cooker led to a fire on Te Mata Peak, Havelock North, with a helicopter being called to keep the situation under control.

"The El Nino weather conditions are forecasted to last for the next three months, so we can certainly expect the district to get drier and drier," Mr van Dorrestein said.

It showed that fires were common and one could easily materialise closer to home than most people thought.

"It's about reducing risk and it's always better to be safe than sorry."

Napier City Council has a restricted fire season in place for rural areas, with open fires (apart from cooking fires) not permitted in urban areas.

Central Hawke's Bay has a prohibited fire season in place, with no outdoor fires of any type allowed to be lit.

People planning fires at functions during the holidays are being advised to contact their respective council well in advance to find out if a permit is required.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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