December's dry weather has forced Fire and emergency New Zealand Rural Fire Authority to place an immediate suspension on all open air fire permits in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Deputy principal rural fire officer Alan Pearce says current conditions have made it too dangerous to light open air fires.
“We are attending 1-2 fires a day where control has been lost,” says Alan.
“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 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 10 days, says Alan.
“We need a good quantity of rain to alleviate the fire danger.”
From December 15, applications for open air fire permits are suspended in the Western Bay of Plenty District and Tauranga City rural areas. This means that no open air burning shall take place until further notice.
He also reminds people any fire is the responsibility of the person causing it, and they can be held liable in the Courts, both criminally for negligence and civilly for damages