Fire risk high, public warned

By Lindy Laird

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A risky combination of Guy Fawkes, warm, dry conditions and wind have firefighters issuing warnings to the public.


There is no shortage of combustible scrub in the region, even in green vegetation and areas where there were fires last summer, Northern Rural Fire Authority principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said.


Fireworks may not have had anything to do with a fire that razed a house near Pawarenga, 22km southeast of Broadwood on Saturday night. No one was in the remote Warawara Forest Rd house which was destroyed before crews from Ahipara, Kaitaia, Kohukohu and the Broadwood Rural Fire Party arrived.


The alarm was raised about 10.20pm, and safety inspectors are investigating the cause of the fire.

However, other call-outs in Northland over the weekend were associated with Guy Fawkes.

On Saturday night firefighters attended a small fire in a carport at Eden Tce, Kamo, which was caused by fireworks, and a big bonfire at Piano Hill, Kauri, which threatened to spread into surrounding dry scrub. Another small roof fire started by fireworks at a house in Dip Rd, Kamo, was out by the time a fire crew arrived.

Hikurangi Fire Brigade chief Snow Buckton is calling for people to take extra care, considering the conditions.

"We're obviously very concerned because it's getting really dry out there," Mr Buckton said.

"All we ask is if people are having a bonfire to let us know when and where it will be, and how long they expect it to go on for. Have some precautions ready, make sure there is water handy and the bonfire is located safely, because if there is dry stuff too close it will spread."

In the Far North the weather pattern of long periods without significant rain was likely to continue for the rest of the month, Mr Taylor said.

"People may think there's no fire risk because temperatures haven't got up to summer levels, but a couple of windy days can dry things out quite quickly," he said.

Mr Taylor warned people planning hangi, backyard fires and farm burn-offs not to be complacent, particularly on windy days when fires could burn out of control quickly.

The authority could declare a prohibited fire season on the Aupouri and Karikari peninsulas.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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