Dunedin's long hot summer has led to a total fire ban being
declared throughout the city.
A prohibited fire season will be imposed on the Dunedin City
Council area from 6am tomorrow until further notice.
All fire permits are now suspended and no permits will be
accepted until the ban is lifted.
''We never make the [total fire ban] decision lightly, but
it's got to the point that we have to manage the situation
carefully,'' council principal rural fire officer Graeme
Still said yesterday.
''I think last time we had a ban this late in the year was
about eight years ago. Our summer came a bit later this year
and it has been a beauty. Since February, it has been fairly
consistently drying off,'' he said.
He said the water table was down and ''we're hoping rain is
on the horizon''.
''We need about 25mm to 40mm of rain before people can burn
again with confidence.
''There's a lot of fuel around at the moment that has dried
up and it wouldn't take much.''
He warned a fire in current conditions would spread rapidly.
The ban covers the lighting of all outdoor fires, including
charcoal and wood-fired barbecues, braziers, incinerators,
camp fires and thermettes. Gas barbecues and cookers may be
used but should be kept clear of combustible materials.
People should also be careful when using vehicles off-road,
petrol chainsaws and mowers, and disposing of cigarette
butts, Mr Still said.
''Anybody seeing a fire outdoors during the ban is asked to
call 111 immediately to report it.''
Fire restrictions are also in place elsewhere in Otago.
Central Otago and the Waitaki district both have fire bans,
and there is a restricted fire season in the Clutha district.
However, Clutha is likely to impose a total fire ban this