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Smoky fires can cause neighbourhood strife


MEDIA RELEASE


Smoky fires can cause neighbourhood strife

For immediate release: Tuesday 14 October 2003

Bay of Plenty farmers and orchardists can annoy the neighbours if they burn greenwaste without letting it dry out first – and they risk an instant fine of $300 too.

Since the start of the fire season, people lighting outdoor fires may need to get a fire permit from their local district council. But they must also remember to burn only suitable – and suitably dry - material so they don’t harm the environment or “smoke out” their neighbours, warns Environment Bay of Plenty.

Principal compliance officer Andy Bruere says fresh plant material can produce billowing clouds of foul-smelling smoke that can fill nearby homes and taint washing. “If you do that, it’s not going to make you very popular in the neighbourhood.”

He advises people to stack branches to dry for several months before burning them. That way, they’ll produce much less smoke, he says.

Smoke also hangs around longer on still, cold days, particularly in the morning. “The cool air above the land stops the smoke from rising and blowing away. That can cause problems for people living nearby so you really need to think about the impact of your fire on others.”

He advises landowners to burn only dry branches on days when light winds are blowing away from neighbours. “If it is windy – more than 10 knots – wait for calmer conditions. It is safer, and ash won’t get blown about.”

Stack rubbish in a way that will ensure good airflow to the base of the fire. The more air, the better the blaze, he says.

“Be sure to stay and supervise the fire at all times. And, whatever you do, don’t burn plastic, rubber, tyres or any other waste that produces black smoke.” Also, be wary of treated timber as toxic material can enter the soil.

Burning these materials can result in an instant fine of $300.

If you have a problem with a neighbour’s smoke, talk to them about it, Mr Bruere says.

ENDS

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