Dry spell keeps total fire ban in place

A total fire ban remains in the Rotorua and Whakatane districts as continual dry weather keeps the fire risk at extreme.

Rotorua District Council deputy principal rural fire officer Richard Horn said a ban which had been enforced at the end of last month still applied in the Rotorua district.

He said people had been good at abiding with the fire ban so far, with no fires reported.

Mr Horn said the fire ban still included hangi, although Rotorua people can apply for a permit to have a hangi.

Meanwhile, Whakatane District Council principal rural fire officer Neal Yeates said a prohibited fire season remains in force for the whole of the Whakatane district, which includes land controlled by the Department of Conservation and Pumicelands.

"Vegetation is tinder dry and even the smallest spark could ignite a fire," Mr Yeates said.

"We ask that farmers and the general public be extra vigilant and report any smoke sightings to emergency services on 111."

During a prohibited fire season, it is an offence for any person to light a fire anywhere in the district or to cause or assist any person to light a fire.

This includes braziers, incinerators, charcoal barbecues, bonfires, Chinese lanterns, pizza ovens and burn-offs.

"A scrub fire at Matata and a grass fire at Julians Berry Farm last week were quickly extinguished by the fire service," Mr Yeates said.

"Fortunately, on both occasions there was very little wind to fan the fire, otherwise we may have been dealing with something major."

He said with no significant rainfall in sight a total fire ban would remain in place until further notice.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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