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Southland residents asked to be careful with fires as dry weather continues

Southland Rural Fire is advising locals to be careful when lighting outdoor fires following what they describe as “a short and dry winter”.

In a statement released this week the fire authority says attention will now be turning to spring cleaning around properties, trimming hedges and burning vegetation.

Southern Rural Fire says the region is experiencing an increase in hedge and vegetation fires as people underestimate how dry the environment is.

“Our statistics show that Rural Fire is called to hedge fires regularly purely because people have placed their pile to burn too close to the hedge or buildings” said Mike Grant Principal Rural Fire Officer for Southland.

Southern Rural Fire urges people to take the time to prepare their piles in order to have a successful burn.
In July Southern Rural Fire was called to 12 vegetation fires. “Southland had 35% less rainfall than an average July.

Coupled with a number of hard frosts which draw out the moisture from vegetation things are dryer than people think” said Mike Grant

It doesn’t matter what size your fire is, assessing the environmental conditions both on the day and for the next few days is essential for a successful burn.

“Half of a successful fire is burning your vegetation. The other half is ensuring the fire is really out and remains out” said Mike Grant.

During August September and October Southland experiences equinoctial winds and this is when people are caught out by fire. Southern Rural Fire is called to wildfire events when people have underestimated the fire potential especially during windy periods and not creating a big enough buffer zone between piles to burn and hedges.

A bit of time spent anticipating the worse case scenario and preparing, will ensure you are not outsmarted by fire.

Tips for having a safe fire:

  • Stack your hedge trimmings at least 30 meters away and on the downwind side of any hedges, trees, fences, building or other combustible material.
  • Check the forecast and make sure their are no strong winds forecast for the next 2 days
  • Ensure you have enough equipment in order to keep your fire safe, keep in mind the worst case scenario. This can include a hose (plugged in, turned on and near the fire site), spades or tractor for big piles.
  • Keep an eye on your fire throughout burning and watch out for any changes in weather.
  • Once your fire is out go back a number of times and make sure it is out. Fires can flair up months after they have been lit.

If you have any questions Southern Rural Fire is available for advice and permits 0800 77 33 63

– Image, a scrub fire in Southland, December 2010 /

– Southern Rural Fire


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