Chris Lynch: Restricted season won't stop fire lighters

Flames could be seen through the night during a fire on the Port Hills on Friday. Photo: Hamish...
Flames could be seen through the night during a fire on the Port Hills on Friday. Photo: Hamish Clark
Finally, a restricted fire season has been imposed in Canterbury amid concern that high temperatures forecast this week will increase the fire risk.

It can't come soon enough. Firefighters across the region have been working in overdrive this week putting out fires caused by people.

Emergency services, as usual, have done an outstanding job protecting property and lives. But there's only so much they can do.

Sadly, a restricted fire season won't stop people from lighting fires and setting off fireworks.

One resident said young people using fireworks were to blame for starting the blaze on Friday night that burned above Hillsborough.

At its height, 60 firefighters, a mix of fulltime and volunteers, worked to douse the blaze which forced evacuations from about 40 homes.

The rules on setting off fireworks are murky.

Chris Lynch.
Chris Lynch.
On a Government website it says there are no rules about when during the year you can set fireworks off, however there are some rules about where.

Many local councils have laws to stop people from lighting fireworks in public places such as parks or beaches.

As tinder-dry conditions continue to plague Canterbury, it's a shame local authorities can't issue a complete ban on the use of fireworks.

Parts of Canterbury could reach 30C later this week and given the number of serious fires in the region already, you can understand why authorities are nervous.

Yesterday's blaze above Redcliffs highlighted just how unpredictable fires can be.\

Helicopters were forced to return to the scene after the fire flared up later in the afternoon coming dangerously close to houses.

That fire which forced the evacuation of 16 homes was started accidentally by a construction worker.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand region manager Paul Henderson said this heat, combined with the dry and windy conditions, increased the fire danger and risk of a wildfire.

Even the use of the word wildfire should ring alarm bells for residents.

There have already been three significant fires across Canterbury this fire season.

Henderson urges people to take the fire risk seriously. His plea: please don't let off fireworks in Canterbury over summer - it's too risky with the heat and extreme dryness in the area.

In these conditions a firework, or spark from machinery, could easily start a wildfire which would get quickly out of control.









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