Restricted fire season in force today

The onset of warmer weather means a restricted fire season will come into force for the entire Clutha District.

Principal Rural Fire officer Neville Hills said the start of the restricted fire season meant that permits were required for all fires in the open air, except for barbecues, cooking fires, and burning of agricultural crop residues, stubble or straw, provided they met certain criteria.

However, Mr Hills said none of the fires listed as exceptions could be lit in high or gusty wind conditions. In all cases, the person lighting the fire must remain present until the fire is out or cannot spread.

''Anyone else intending to light a fire in the open, in either rural or urban areas, needs to get in touch with council and give at least five working days' notice to obtain a fire permit,'' he said. This gave time for a rural fire officer to inspect the site, check the conditions and give advice to the applicant.

The issuing of permits would take place during office hours

until 3pm on December 21, then recommence after the Christmas-New Year break from January 15.

Anyone wanting to hold a New Year's Eve bonfire will need to apply for a permit before December 21.

Mr Hills said that even with a permit, it was the responsibility of the person lighting the fire to ensure it did not spread. Prosecution and cost recovery was still possible if a fire got out of control, even if the fire was of a type allowed to be lit.

Further advice and fire permit application forms are available from the Clutha District Council main office and council service centres.


Fire safety - Restricted fire season rules
Permits are required for all fires in the open air, except for the following:

 The burning of agricultural crop residues, stubble or straw, provided a fully ploughed firebreak of at least 5m has been created first.

 Barbecues lit in properly constructed containers which are fuelled with gas, solid or liquid fuel.

 Cooking fires at camping sites lit within a concrete or stone surround and with no less than 3m of ground surrounding the container cleared of all combustible materials.