HOT dry conditions have sent Wanganui's fire risk rating skyward and led to district-wide fire restrictions being imposed.
Wanganui Fire Chief Kevin Smith said the warm weather the city had experienced over the past three weeks had accelerated the drying rate of vegetation, meaning fire restrictions from this weekend.
"The weather indices which we monitor have reached a high point which triggers restrictions on fires," Mr Smith said. Permits for open fires are needed in both urban and rural areas from midnight on Friday, although incinerators could still be used in urban areas.
Mr Smith said a lot of storm damaged trees in rural areas were only now drying out and people needed to be aware of this when burning them.
"Some of those fires can burn for weeks," he said.
Anyone with a permit who was burning rubbish needed to maintain a close watch on it and call firefighters immediately if they suspected it might be getting out of control.
"People must be vigilant. Don't light fires when there are strong winds; even if a day starts off fine it can still then deteriorate quickly."
Fires could cost landowners big money too, if they spread. "The cost of the fires to be extinguished can sometimes run int thousands of dollars and the people who light them are liable for it," he said.
Mr Smith said the last two summers had been quite damp with fire restrictions being imposed later in summer and only along the coast.
But Mr Smith said Wanganui people had generally been responsible with fires this summer.
"It's been a good season to date with no fires having got out of control."
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