Rural fire ban looms

Principal Rural Fire Officer Alan Pearce says the Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority considering a total fire ban. Supplied Photo.

Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority is suspending all open air fire permits in the Western Bay of Plenty, brought about by nearly two weeks of hot, dry weather.

Current conditions have made it too dangerous to light open air fires and the suspension will take immediate effect, says Principal Rural Fire Officer Alan Pearce.

A large scrub fire on Wednesday threatened several houses and farm buildings in Aongatete before it was brought under control, he says.

“Scrub, grasses and ground litter are now dangerously dry and will ignite easily. The intensity of these fires makes them very difficult to control in the hot and windy conditions we're experiencing.”

The authority is now actively considering imposing a total fire ban, as part of its safety strategy, if conditions do not improve in the next seven to ten days.

“We need a good quantity of rain to alleviate the fire danger.”

Applications for open air fire permits are suspended in the Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City rural areas are suspended from today.

However, Tauranga City Council says urban areas of the city remain unaffected by the suspension.

Alan is asking current permit holders to refrain from open air burning when possible.

He also reminds people any fire is the responsibility of the person causing it, and they can be liable for the often very costly efforts to suppress an uncontrolled wild fire.

Alan is happy to discuss matters relating to open air fires and can be contacted on 07 571 8008.

Niwa's forecast over the next three months is for an even chance of average or above average temperatures. The chances are about equal for rainfall being normal or below normal. Soil moisture which is a drought indicator has an even chance of being below normal.

Rain is forecast for the Bay of Plenty on Friday and Sunday.

To keep updated on fire permit conditions and for more information visit the Western Bay of Plenty District Council website.



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Early morning view from the Mount. By Lynn Johnson. Send us your photos and stories from around the Bay of Plenty. Email: photos@thesun.co.nz