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Prohibited Fire Season For Mid-South Canterbury Hill Country From Friday

Mid-South Canterbury’s hill and high country will move to a prohibited fire season on Friday 12 January at 8am, until further notice.

The area covered by the prohibited fire season includes Hakataramea Valley and the Rangitata, Ashburton and Rakaia Gorge areas.

A prohibited fire season means a total ban on outdoor fires, and all previously granted fire permits are suspended.

Declaring the prohibited fire season, Fire and Emergency New Zealand District Manager Rob Hands says vegetation in the Mid-South Canterbury hill country (predominantly tussock grasslands) will continue to dry out over the next few weeks as grass seed heads finish ripening.

"These are the conditions where wildfires start easily and can quickly get out of control," he says.

"A fire at Station Peak near Hakataramea on 15 December which escaped from a controlled burn and required 10 fire trucks and tankers and three helicopters to extinguish clearly illustrates the increasing fire risk.

"The easy access public conservation land and other areas the public can get to in these parts of Mid-South Canterbury are also subject to rapid changes in fire risk, dependent on the weather.

"A prohibited fire season will allow Fire and Emergency to provide communities with a greater level of protection from the threat of fire, particularly while there is increased recreational activity in the area during the summer holiday period," Rob Hands says.

"We also ask people to take account of the conditions before they start any outside activities that might cause sparks, like mowing, welding or driving vehicles in long dry grass."

If you are unsure if it is safe to undertake spark-generating activity, or to light up your barbecue, go to www.checkitsalright.nz to check the local fire danger, fire season status and find fire safety tips.

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