The fire risk in Central Otago is escalating and a total fire
ban is likely to be declared ''sooner rather than later'',
the district's principal rural fire officer, Owen Burgess,
says. A grass fire near Clyde yesterday prompted a warning
from Mr Burgess about the dry conditions.
''Things are starting to dry out and it's going to get worse.
''Don't be fooled by a bit of green on top; it's dry
underneath,'' he said.
A restricted fire season has been in force since December 7
and Mr Burgess said fire permits would be revoked at midnight
on December 23 and no more issued until at least January 7.
The fire risk would be reassessed on that date ''and the way
it's going, it'll probably be a closed [prohibited] fire
season from then''.
Although there was rain overnight on Monday around Alexandra,
it was only 1.4mm, Mr Burgess said.
''We'll need more than that, to do any good.''
About 500sq m of land near Clyde was burnt after a rubbish
fire spread yesterday afternoon. Clyde and Alexandra and
rural firefighters attended the fire. The property owner had
a permit for the fire but investigations were continuing,
Clyde chief fire officer Richard Davidson said.