Fenz to investigate 'total idiots' behind pyrotechnics in Nelson

Flamethrower ignited and blasted at Dystopia festival. / Cory Sykes
Flamethrower ignited and blasted at Dystopia festival. / Cory Sykes

A firefighter who spent 65 hours fighting the Wakefield fires has labelled festival organisers who held a pyrotechnics display during a total fire ban "total idiots".

Fire and Emergency NZ have also said it will be investigating the fire-related activities at the Dystopia Outdoor Music Festival - which was held in Upper Takaka, in the Nelson-Tasman district, from February 15 to 17.

The display included flames being blasted into the air by a flamethrower mounted onto the back of a ute.

A firefighter for Hira Rural Fire, who wished to remain anonymous, said those responsible should be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law".

"Do these clowns think we need another fire to deal with? Send them to jail," he said.

The display proceeded despite a total ban on lighting any fires in the area.

Meanwhile, 80km away at Pigeon Valley, emergency services continue to tackle a scrub fire which has engulfed over 2300ha which started almost two weeks ago.

An earlier Facebook post by event organiser Pete Murdoch stated "there is a severe fire risk for the region, so no fires please, and thanks".

Three days later Murdoch posted that fire safety was at the "top of our list".

"We have a submersible pump with enough hose to dowse the entire site, fire blankets and extinguishers," he said.

It was also stated that organisers doused the site with water all day on Friday and had a complete fire ban in all areas other than the dust bowl which was bordered in wet ground.

Pete Murdoch was approached for comment by the Herald by failed to respond.

Fire and Emergency NZ said it was aware of videos that have been posted to social media showing fire-related activities at the Dystopia.

"Fire and Emergency did not receive any 111 calls in relation to the event, or receive any reports of associated injuries or property damage," a spokesperson said.

"We are extremely concerned about risky activities with fire, given the current fire risk conditions in the area which is in a prohibited fire season.

"The current response to the Pigeon Valley fire near Richmond demonstrates how serious the potential consequences can be."

The spokesperson said FENZ would be investigating the fire-related activities at Dystopia and expect to discuss them with event organisers.

"FENZ does have some enforcement powers under its legislation but it is too early to say whether or how any of them may be used," it said.

A festival-goer, who wished not to be named, earlier told the Herald he was unaware the area had a total fire ban but the pyrotechnics "looked good and it was controlled".

"It was a fun event, many people had a blast and would love the organisers to do another one," he said.

"There was all the safety precautions taken first with water hoses and fire extinguishers. The area that there was fire was on dirt, with nothing in range of catching on fire and there were many on patrol to make sure all was good."

However, in another post a commenter was unimpressed about the use of fire.

"Anyone supporting an event with live fire at the moment needs their heads read WTF!!," they said.

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