Take heed of total fire ban

A total fire man remains in place for more than nine locations around the country. File photo.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging people not to be fooled by the wet weather as the fire risk remains high.

A total fire ban is now in place for Marlborough and Kaikoura, after more than six weeks of hot, dry conditions.

The ban means both residents and holidaymakers in the region are not allowed to use charcoal barbecues, braziers, incinerators or light open fires of any kind.

Fire and Emergency’s Principal Rural Fire Officer for Marlborough, John Foley, says while there’s been a recent bout of rain, the threat of fire isn’t over.

"The conditions have been extremely dry. We had a really hot, dry November with temperatures soaring to 30 degrees some days, and we’ve also had a bit of wind, which is a dangerous combination," he says.

"So essentially the rain we’re getting now only makes it appear wet, but in reality, the vegetation is still really dry and when the sun comes out again, it will burn pretty easily."

John says people need to be extra vigilant when doing anything outside that could potentially spark a fire.

"We just want people to be mindful of the activities they’re undertaking, whether it’s camping, using a chainsaw, even using ride-on lawnmowers or tractors. It really doesn’t take much for a fire to ignite and, before you know it, it can spread and rip through hundreds of hectares."

"Even the exhaust from a motorbike can start a fire in these dry conditions, so people need to be really careful."

Under the total fire ban, people may still use gas barbecues, but John says it’s crucial they do so far away from long grass, or anything flammable.

He says the same applies to people in other parts of the country.

A total fire ban remains in place for regions including Gisborne, Horowhenua, Palmerston North, Rangitikei, Thames Valley, Whanganui, and Central Otago.

For more information about fire restrictions in these and other districts, visit www.checkitsalright.nz

Check out our Fast Fire Fact videos with tips for these safety messages.

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