Restricted fire ban imposed throughout region

By cherie.taylor@age.co.nz

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A restricted fire ban will be in place for the Wairarapa region from Monday.

People will not be able to light open fires on any Department of Conservation camping ground in the region with a restricted ban requiring permits for other areas from December 23.

Wairarapa Rural Fire District principal rural fire officer Phill Wishnowsky said while the weather had been quite unsettled during December, fire danger in the Wairarapa was slowly rising to the point fire restrictions and bans were necessary to protect property and the risk to people.

The Wairarapa Rural Fire District covers all the rural land within the three district councils, Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa along with Department of Conservation land within council boundaries.

A permit is required for all fires in the open air, including campfires, bonfires, rubbish fires, wood-fired barbecues, braziers, fireworks, thermettes, Chinese Lanterns, welding plants, portable forges, and open incinerators but is not required for gas-fired barbecues.

Mr Wishnowsky said the rain forecast in the coming week was not predicted to affect the fire danger level for long.

"The current medium-term forecasts indicate the rest of the summer could be warm, dry and windy ... a combination that is not such good news for rural fire personnel," he said.

"Everyone is urged to take a few simple precautions to reduce the risk and threat of fire - actions such as keeping roadside grass verges short, keeping long grass and dry vegetation away from buildings, keeping trees and other vegetation away from power lines, keeping driveways and other access open and clear for fire engine access, making sure rural property is clearly numbered and identified."

Meanwhile, the Tararua District Council has also declared a restricted fire season throughout the region. This includes open fires on all beach areas and public reserves including Akitio Beach and Herbertville Beach.

The restrictions will be in force until further notice. Permits can applied for through district councils and the Wairarapa Rural Fire District Office and can take up to three days to process. Failure to comply is an offence under Section 61 of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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