NZ firefighters on high alert

Wairarapa principal rural fire officer Phill Wishnowsky. Photo / Lynda Feringa
Wairarapa principal rural fire officer Phill Wishnowsky. Photo / Lynda Feringa

Firefighters in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa are on high alert as the regions brace for forecast strong winds and hot temperatures.

The fire risk in the Hawkes Bay has been raised to extreme and hot dry winds as well as temperatures reaching more than 30C are expected.

Fire crews in the areas were prepared should the situation escalate, said Hastings District Council principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell.

"When the high temperatures are combined with strong winds there is the potential for the fire risk to increase rapidly.

"It's fairly serious for the next two days particularly with similar sort of conditions to what they are getting in Australia with hot dry wind. We're fortunate that we don't have the big landscapes that they've got but we've still got the same potential for fires to break out," he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr Mitchell urged people to take precautions and avoid doing anything that could start a fire, such as welding.

Lawns should be mowed in the early morning or later in the evening, as mowing in the heat of the day increased the risk of sparks which could ignite the very dry undergrowth, he said.

A total fire ban for Hawkes Bay has been in place since mid-December, which means no outdoor fires may be lit.

Most people had been behaving responsibly and reporting fires since the ban was put in place, said Mr Mitchell.

- APNZ

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