Caution urged as district dries

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Fire and Emergency crews around the district have been busy battling out of control fires, with three vegetation fires on the same day.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand fire risk management officer Bevan Findlay said three appliances, six tankers and 36 personnel from six fire units attended one blaze, which reignited a few days later.

He said there was a need for precautions. Despite recent rain, the district is experiencing dry conditions. Ashburton received just 7mm of rain in January, the lowest January amount since records began in 1909.

"Yes, it is dry around the area, and we have had a number of fires around Canterbury. The summer months are always busier for fire crews in rural areas as the hot, dry weather means that fires can start more easily and develop more quickly.

"Windy weather does not help either, as this can push fires along and speed up their spread."

Mr Findlay said the district is now in a Restricted Fire Season, so all fires (except for certain types of cooking fires) will need a permit, go to checkitsalright.nz for more information on fire seasons and to apply for fire permits. In these hotter months it is especially important to ensure that fires are following permit rules:

Check the fire weather: fireweather.niwa.co.nz

Only light fires on calm days. Wind can quickly turn contained, controlled fires into out-of-control fires.

Machinery such as farm equipment can cause fires in vegetation just from the heat of engines or exhausts. Keep machinery well maintained and clean.

Make sure fires are well and truly extinguished before leaving them.

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