‘Necessary’ fires allowed after ban lifted

Farmers and horticulturists will once more be able to have legal fires following the removal of the total fire ban across Otago.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has now moved the situation to a restricted fire season and fire permits can now be obtained for open air fires across all of Otago, except the Queenstown Red Zone, which has a prohibited fire season year around.

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."

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