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Cowpats and other fire hazards…

It’s tinder dry out there and Federated Farmers is urging all rural folk to take precautions to try to ensure work activities don’t spark a vegetation blaze.

One risk that may be overlooked is clumps of cowpat or similar material sticking to the exhausts of quad bikes and other vehicles, Feds Hawke’s Bay President Jim Galloway says.

"It sticks on there, dries, heats and starts smoldering. If that falls into dry grass it can set off flames."

The region has already experienced rural fires, including at Tikokino, Clarkson’s Hill and off Moteo Pa Rd.

"It’s thought two of the fires were caused by the blades of a mower striking stone, wire or something else hard and causing a spark. In the current conditions, farmers and others should think very carefully about whether it’s safe to do mowing or topping or any other activity that could cause sparks," Jim said.

Another risk to look out for is that power lines are sagging in the heat and may touch tree tops underneath. The wind causing powerline "clapping" (touching) is another factor.

"We’re just asking farmers and others in the community to be vigilant and to take a precautionary approach," Jim said.

"It’s sound practice to carry a fire extinguisher on farm vehicles. That could end up being the difference between a patch of smoldering grass and a major event.

"If you’ve got a vehicle that carries spray equipment and the tank is not is use, it’s a good idea to fill it with water and park it in an accessible place so you’ve got a means of putting out small fires."

The fire risk is another reason why improved water storage is a pressing issue for the Hawke’s Bay, Jim said.

"Firefighters are hamstrung if that resource isn’t there."


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