Warning over controlled burns

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Sep 15, 2023 |


With high winds forecast across the country this weekend, Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging people to remain vigilant when they’re burning off paddocks and vegetation.

A restricted fire season has already been declared for the Upper Waitaki and Central fire zones of Otago, with fire permits suspended for those areas until Sunday at 8am due to very high fire danger.

There have been several incidents recently with of out-of-control burn-offs, and fires started by controlled or previous burns in Southland and Mid-South Canterbury.

Earlier this week in Canterbury, a controlled burn spread to a boundary hedge and then set fire to the roof of a house. On Thursday alone, a helicopter was needed to fight an out of control burn near Cheviot, while in Clutha a vegetation fire was started by a reignited burn.

Fire and Emergency acting service delivery wildfire manager Rachael Thorp said people should exercise caution when completing a burn.

“Ensure you check the weather conditions before you burn and if you’re in any doubt, then hold off until more favourable conditions are present. If you’ve already completed a burn, we urge you to continue to check it as the chance of reignition is high,” Thorp said.

“It’s important to remember burying embers under dirt may not extinguish the fire. Especially with the high winds predicted this weekend, this can disturb the soil, pick the embers up and carry them in the win to other ignition sources,” she said.

People are advised to take care when lighting any bonfires or rubbish fires, and to check the weather and not to burn if the conditions are windy or hot.

“While fire season changes are yet to take place for most of the country, people should not allow an open fire season to make them complacent,” Thorp added.

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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