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Fire risk extreme; complete ban on now

A total fire ban is being imposed across Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne.

A decision to move to the ban across the regions was made this morning (January 11), in the wake of continuing hot, dry weather with little respite in the forecast.

“Forests, grass and scrub across the two regions are tinder dry and the continuing wind and people lighting illegal rubbish fires is making things even worse,” said Eastern Regional Rural Fire Committee chairman Trevor Mitchell.

Call outs to fires, particularly in rural areas, had been increasing, putting strain on firefighting services, he said.

In recent days a fire in Tuki Tuki Road burnt through nine hectares of olive trees and a barn full of hay in Clive was lost to fire.

A house and about 25 hectares of avocados and grass were burnt on Sunday at Mahanga and another house lost in a fire fanned by very high winds off Kereru Road, Hastings. A number of other properties had been threatened.

“It really is not worth the risk; these people have suffered real losses and we need to do everything we can to keep people and their properties safe.”

A total fire ban means no outdoor fires can be lit without the express written permission of the Principal Rural Fire Officer. The ban includes fireworks, charcoal and wood barbecues, pizza ovens, braziers and chimenea, traditional cooking fires, hangi and umu.

Gas fuelled outdoor cooking appliances can still be used, but extra care should be taken, Mr Mitchell said.

People should also be taking extra care with any fire hazardous activities in the rural areas such as trail bike riding, using power tools, machinery and mowers. Any spark could start a fire in these conditions.

Anyone seeing smoke should call 111 immediately.

4 October 2017

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