Editorial: All beach fires must be fully doused

By Craig Cooper

Lighting a fire on the beach is one of life's great pleasures in Northland.

So is looking after your grandchildren.

But the two have combined with disastrous consequences for Ruakaka grandmother Barbara Turner, through no fault of her own.

On Sunday, Barbara's grandson Oliver, 5, ran into the remnants of a fire on Ruakaka Beach.

The fire was lit on Saturday night, and then covered in sand.

Which is similar to how you prepare a hangi; it intensifies the heat.

On this occasion, young Oliver ended up accidentally "cooking" his poor wee feet about 11am - well after the fire had been covered up.

Fire Service specialist fire investigator Craig Bain, of Whangarei, advises that sand alone is inadequate and suggests people uses the nearby seawater to make sure beach bonfires are put out.

As there is no fire ban at the moment, it is not illegal to light beach bonfires.

However, Oliver's accident suggests that it should be illegal to light fires near surf clubs, public accessways, or at the very least above the high tide mark.

To not put the fire out properly, when there is ample water nearby, and probably ample empty alcohol containers, is lazy and inexcusable.

- Northern Advocate

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