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Farmers Request Rural Fire Vigilance

Farmers Request Rural Fire Vigilance

The recent spate of fires in rural Canterbury has again highlighted the need for care during the dry summer months says John Aspinall, Rural Fires Spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc)

“The recent Canterbury riverbed fires have placed lives and property at risk, as hot nor-west winds can fan a spark into a major fire in seconds. Tinder dry vegetation in many Canterbury riverbeds has been the origin of recent fires.”

In most rural districts a Prohibited Fire Season has been declared. This means that no fire of any kind, including barbeques should be lit in rural areas. People should also be aware of how easily a fire can start in the conditions currently being experienced.

“Any metal object striking a stone is capable of striking a spark and one spark is capable of starting a fire. The exhausts of vehicles such as motorbikes or All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) moving in riverbeds can sometimes be all it takes.

“The recent fire in the upper Ashburton riverbed required 300 fire-fighters, and many fire appliances, machinery and aircraft to bring the fire under control. Faced with a wall of flames families were forced to leave their homes. Fortunately the fire was principally confined to the riverbed and nobody was injured or homes destroyed. We were lucky - this time.

“Many kilometres of fences were destroyed together with valuable grazing areas. The cost of the fire suppression and replacing the lost fences will run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, says Mr Aspinall.

Federated Farmers asks for extra vigilance from the public during this time of heightened fire risk in Canterbury and other areas of New Zealand where the summer dry has raised the fire risk index.

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