Fire ban remains in place

A total fire ban imposed across Waitaki will stay in place for at least a large part of today, as rural firefighters continue to warn farmers of the dangers of conducting burn-offs in windy conditions.

Civil Defence authorities in Waitaki imposed a total fire ban in the district yesterday, in the wake of a severe gale warning issued for Otago. The MetService had forecast northwesterly gales of up to 120kmh were possible in exposed areas of Otago, and Waitaki Civil Defence emergency services manager Chris Raine said the ban would remain in place until the weather system dissipated.

Fires must not be lit until the all-clear has been given.

''We have issued a severe weather warning today. We have told people not to light any fires today until this present weather system goes through.''

Yesterday's ban came just a day after Waitaki rural firefighters fought a 200sq m blaze for about five hours on Tuesday.

Mr Raine said that fire had been caused by a burn-off on a farm in Georgetown spreading to a nearby stand of trees.

''We understand the farmer concerned probably did not meet the burn conditions.

''If people have permits and they are burning legitimately we don't have an issue with it. We do if climatic conditions are against it, because they will be in breach of permit conditions.''

He cautioned farmers not to light fires in breach of permit conditions, which prohibited the lighting of fires in wind of more than 9kmh.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz