Total fire ban for Canterbury from this weekend

Photo: Newsline/CCC
Photo: Newsline/CCC
Canterbury will be put under a total fire ban from midnight on Saturday - about a month earlier than the move was made last year.

The prohibited fire season will apply to Christchurch, as well as the Hurunui, Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

That means all open air fires will be banned - but gas-operated appliances, barbecues, wood-fire pizza ovens, hāngis and umus less than 2m in size would be allowed.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand​ said the lack of rain has meant restrictions are needed earlier than last year.

Canterbury remains one of the driest regions in New Zealand.

Christchurch has received 2.4mm of rain in the past 30 days, while Rangiora in North Canterbury received 5.8mm and Ashburton in Selwyn 8.8mm - far below the January average of about 28mm.

The high fire risk has also prompted Fire and Emergency New Zealand to warn people to stay vigilant, particularly in North Canterbury, where warm, windy weather is forecast for the coming weeks. 

"We are entering what is traditionally the height of the fire season and everyone will be incredibly mindful of the situation that has occurred in Australia these past months," said FENZ integrated risk manager Darrin Woods.

"While parts of fire-ravaged Australia are now receiving much needed rain, we are not likely to receive any of that in the short to medium-term."

"Our fuel conditions continue to dry out and the look of the hills around Christchurch and the inland foothills is of an increasingly brown landscape as grass seed heads mature and cure.

"We need high levels of vigilance to ensure that we don’t get any fire starts, especially during periods of elevated temperatures or strong winds," Mr Woods said.



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