Urgent warning amid rising wildfire risks across New Zealand

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 03, 2024 |


Fire and Emergency New Zealand has called for heightened public vigilance in anticipation of a severe fire threat looming over several regions next week.

The forecast predicts “high and extreme fire danger” across notable areas including Central Otago, the Mackenzie Basin, South Canterbury’s high country, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wairarapa, Northland, and Auckland, raising alarms for potential widespread danger.

Wildfire Manager Tim Mitchell said an incoming warm air mass from Australia is set to elevate temperatures and intensify wind conditions across the country.

“These conditions will drive up the fire risk, particularly on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, especially in those areas which are already dry and experiencing elevated fire danger,” Mitchell explained, highlighting the swift nature of fire spread under such circumstances.

Fire and Emergency is urging the public to adhere to existing fire season restrictions, whether they imply reduced or outright prohibitions on fire activities.

Mitchell also provided specific guidance on avoiding activities that could inadvertently ignite fires, such as mowing, operating machinery, cutting, or welding near dry vegetation, and recommended conducting such tasks during the cooler parts of the day.

He emphasised the need for cautious use of heat-generating devices like barbecues, fish smokers, and gas cookers, which are subject to regulatory controls based on location.

For those planning any outdoor activities that may pose a fire risk, Mitchell advised, “Always visit www.checkitsalright.nz to check that it is safe before undertaking fire risk activities outdoors,” adding a stern warning against complacency. “Don’t be that person who ignores the advice and starts a damaging wildfire.”

Mitchell urged New Zealanders in lower-risk areas also to remain vigilant, cautioning that “lower risk doesn’t mean no risk.”

For additional fire safety advice and guidelines, residents are encouraged to visit www.checkitsalright.nz.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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