Christchurch tinder-dry, residents warned

The New Zealand Army's West Melton Rifle Range. File photo / Supplied
The New Zealand Army's West Melton Rifle Range. File photo / Supplied

As Canterbury prepares to bask in its hottest week of a spectacular summer, residents are being reminded of the high fire risk across the parched region.

Temperatures are expected to range from 27C to 32C this week as a large high sits over the tinder-dry area which has been plagued by scrub fires this month.

Total fire bans are already in place for the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts surrounding Christchurch.

Christchurch City Council was now urging residents, both in town and rural areas, to be extra cautious and not to take unnecessary risks.

"Of particular concern are reckless use of fireworks, lawn-mowing on hot, windy days, using power tools that spark and discarding cigarettes without extinguishing them fully,'' Civil Defence and Emergency Management manager Murray Sinclair said.

"Cantabrians need to remain vigilant - bottom line is, don't do something that can cause a fire.''

Mr Sinclair said that people might not be aware that if they caused a fire that fire services needed to respond to, the cost for putting it out might be on-charged to them.

"If we need to put out a fire, whether it is because someone has been careless or not, the costs can be significant and people can get a surprise bill on top of what they have potentially lost,'' he added.

Private property owners were encouraged to help with reducing potential fire risks over summer by ensuring their properties were well-maintained.

Long grass and dense vegetation are not hazards in themselves but once a spark is generated they can become a risk.

"The recent spate of fires has highlighted the need for Christchurch residents to be mindful and to take personal responsibility for their own properties. Every effort should be made to lessen the risk of any potential fire hazard,'' council unit manager inspections and enforcement, Gary Lennan said.

"Having a well-maintained property greatly reduces the risk of fire.''

He urged residents to be proactive by regularly mowing their lawns, trimming overhanging trees and removing excess vegetation.

''[It] is not only the best defence against the spread of fire - it will also stop your neighbours worrying,'' Mr Lennan said.

- APNZ

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