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Doc Warns Of Extreme Fire Risk

Doc Warns Of Extreme Fire Risk

The Department of Conservation is calling on people in the outdoors to take extreme care to avoid fire, warning that vast areas of New Zealand’s backcountry are tinder-dry.

DOC National Fire Co-ordinator Kerry Hilliard says huge tracts of the lands managed by the Department are in extreme fire danger.

“The continuing high temperatures and lack of rain has resulted in vegetation reaching the stage where it will easily ignite and quickly build into a raging fire.

“Grasslands, scrub lands and beech forests are affected and any fire will have large quantities of dry vegetation to fuel it. A small flame could quickly become an intense, difficult to control fire.”

DOC is responsible for fire prevention and suppression over the lands it administers and a one kilometre fire safety margin. The areas at most risk are the lands within the Eastern areas of both the North and South Islands, along with Nelson/Abel Tasman, Central Otago, Wellington, Horowhenua, Manawatu, Taranaki and Bay of Plenty.

Mr Hilliard is calling on those in the outdoors to take great care.

“We’re asking people who are recreating and working within these areas to be extremely careful and vigilant to ensure they do not cause a fire. Only gas fuelled cookers should be used for making a brew or cooking a meal.”

He says all those visiting the backcountry should check on the fire season status before leaving. A total fire ban, or prohibited fire season is in place in many areas of NZ because of the extreme fire danger. While these precautions are in place, it is illegal to light a fire in the open air.

“Any fire during these conditions is likely to be costly and difficult to extinguish. Those who cause fires are liable for the costs of putting it out and people should be aware it does not take long to spend more than $100,000 on suppressing fires in the hill and high country.”

Mr Hilliard says DOC’s fire crews and volunteer rural fire forces are on high alert to deal with any fire. The Department is also working closely with neighbouring fire authorities and the NZ Fire Service to ensure any fire which is the responsibility of any fire authority is quickly responded to and suppressed.

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