Fire ban eased across Otago

Graeme Still
Graeme Still
The total fire ban across Otago has been moved to a restricted fire season for most of the region, by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

As of today, fire permits can be obtained to light fires in the open air across all of Otago, except the Queenstown Red Zone, which has a prohibited fire season all year round.

Fenz Otago District principal rural fire officer Graeme Still said permits would be assessed on a case by case basis, and all applicants would be contacted to discuss their burning needs.

He said the ban had been lifted in response to the change in weather conditions.

The dry summer had created extremely dry vegetation which had now regained moisture and was reducing fire danger levels.

“However, only fires that are necessary will be granted a permit in order to keep our firefighters safe in their bubbles.”

He said necessary fires were those needed to destroy bio-hazards such as infected beehives, or to assist in horticultural production such as orchard waste, burning crop stubble and land preparation for feed crops and forestry management.

Those who were granted fire permits would still need to plan ahead and take responsibility for any fires they light.

“There is always risk associated with using fires, regardless of the time of year and how wet it may appear.

“Wind is the biggest factor that catches people out. The trick is for you to control the fire, not the other way around.

“So only light what you can manage with the resources at hand.”

Restricted Fire Season

Tips for successful burning:
- Read the conditions of your fire permit prior to lighting up.
- Check council bylaws before lighting.
- Ensure vegetation is dry. Wet, sappy vegetation creates lots of smoke and is a nuisance to neighbors.
- Fire material should be at least 20 metres from buildings, hedges or other combustible material.
- Obtain a long-range weather forecast to ensure there are no strong winds forecast during and after your burn.
- Keep your fire small and easy to control by feeding material into the fire a little at a time.
- Ensure there is a water supply, enough to control any spread.
- Do not leave your fire unattended.
- When you have finished, make sure the fire is out.

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