‘Extreme’ fire risk sparks warning

Following major fires in the Canterbury region late last week, Fire and Emergency New Zealand southern staff are warning Otago and Southland residents to be extra vigilant this week as the fire risk rises to "extreme" in some parts of the region.

People took to the water as temperatures topped 30°C again in parts of Otago over the weekend.

Oamaru hit 30.8°C at 5pm on Saturday, and parts of Central Otago neared 30°C on both Saturday and Sunday.

And the best news is, aside from a slight dip in the mercury tomorrow, it looks set to continue for much of the week.

Tomorrow, a trough is expected to move northeastward over the South Island, bringing cooler strong or gale southwest winds and showers.

The southwest flow is expected to ease on Wednesday, and warm temperatures will resume for the rest of the week.

Fenz community fire risk manager James Knapp said the bad news was, all the hot, dry weather was causing ground conditions and vegetation to become easily combustible, despite the odd shower of rain here and there.

It was making the southern regions vulnerable to fire, he said.

"And it’s likely to stay that way for the immediate future.

"We’re coming into February, which is traditionally the highest fire danger month.

"Even though there may be the odd shower now and then, it won’t be enough to lower the fire danger.

"We certainly don’t want to have situations like we saw in North Canterbury last week."

The Naseby area was under an "extreme fire" risk, and there was a total fire ban in inland Otago and Waitaki, he said.

Everywhere else was under a restricted fire season.

He urged Otago and Southland residents to be extra vigilant about mowing lawns or doing any activities that may create sparks this week.