Rotorua residents get fire warning

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

The Rotorua District Council is warning people against lighting fires in the district despite the fire risk being at a moderate level.

Rotorua District Council deputy principal rural fire officer Richard Horn said there was a relatively low fire risk at the moment despite the dry conditions across the district.

"The main reason is because we don't have high winds."

He said readings for the fire risk were taken daily and could change quickly during summer, especially when the winds picked up.

Mr Horn said the fire risk was expected to reach a very high or extreme level during parts of February and March.

He said the risk was measured by moisture in the ground, moisture in plants and trees and wind levels.

During the restricted fire season, which ends on April 30, residents must hold a permit to light a fire in a rural area.

Permits are free and can be ordered from the Rotorua District Council.

Mr Horn said you could still burn in urban areas without a permit but it was best to avoid it if possible.

"Rotorua can get quite windy, usually from about 2pm onwards. So it is better to burn in the morning if at all."

He said people should be aware of the conditions and make sure they keep a hose or bucket of water nearby when burning.

Rotorua Fire Service senior station officer Cameron McEwen said the public had been good when burning rubbish around Rotorua.

"We haven't had many problems.

"People are quite well schooled in the basics of having a small rubbish fire," Mr McEwen said. "It is so prominent in the news so people are generally taking care, I think."

To get a free permit or to ask suggestions about lighting a fire call the Rotorua District Council on (07) 348 4199.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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