Total ban lifted but risk remains severe

Pete Scarlet.
Pete Scarlet.
A total ban on open fires in the Otago region's central zone, covering Central Otago and the Wanaka area, has been lifted but there is still a severe risk of fire in some areas.

The ban was lifted at 6am on Saturday, April 1 due to recent rainfall and the changing of the season.

Otago Rural Fire Authority deputy principal rural fire officer Pete Scarlet said it was an average year in terms of how many fires had been attended.

There was a two-week period in February where three rubbish fires - in the Naseby, Tarras and Lindis areas - had to be extinguished by fire crews because of the total fire ban. None of those got out of control.

The rural fire authority has the power to seek costs from those responsible for lighting fires during a total fire ban. Because those fires were relatively minor the fire authority did not seek to recover costs from the land owners responsible, Mr Scarlet said.

There was still a very high risk of fire near Wanaka and Cromwell and it was unlikely permits for fires would be issued in those areas. Permits in the rest of the central zone would be looked at on a case by case basis.

During a restricted fire season only gas cookers, gas barbecues and fires in permanent fire places are are allowed without a permit throughout all of the Otago Rural Fire Authority zone

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