Landowners face fire bills

By Peter de Graaf

Two more Far North landowners face hefty bills after a bin fire burned out of control and a fire was lit without a permit to clear weeds.

Both fires were on Wainui Rd, northeast of Kaeo, around 11am on Saturday and cost thousands of dollars to put out. Five crews were called out from the Kaeo and Kerikeri fire brigades and the Taupo Bay and Karikari rural fire parties.

A restricted fire season came into force across the Far North on December 10, which means every outdoor fire requires a permit. The exceptions are hangi fires, braziers and barbecues.

Northern principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said one blaze started when the wind picked up and a rubbish fire escaped from a 44-gallon drum, igniting scrub over an area of roughly 20m x 10m.

In the other incident a landowner lit an unpermitted fire to clear weeds from a stream bank, sparking 111 calls from neighbours. That fire covered an area of about 50m x 3m.

Mr Taylor said the fires were a "huge inconvenience" and together cost thousands of dollars to extinguish.

The landowners would be invoiced, he said.

The call-outs could have been prevented by paying attention to the weather and the fire restrictions, and - in the case of the stream bank fire - with forward thinking and courtesy for neighbours, he said.

Another unpermitted blaze, just before 5pm on Sunday, had the Paihia Fire Brigade fuming.

A landowner lit a pile of household waste, furniture and even an old oil heater in a clearing surrounded by scrub off Paihia Rd between Opua and Kawakawa. Flames were reportedly 5m high.

- Northern Advocate

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