Archived Media releases

 

2014

1 December 2014

Canterbury Rural Fire Update - December 2015

So far this season fire danger conditions have generally been moderate with some periods of hotter windier weather. Soil moisture on a regional basis is generally low after a drier than normal winter. Grass growth across the region over the spring must be managed to ensure it is not a fire problem over summer.

Presently the grasses are mostly green and not presenting an immediate fire issue, but this will rapidly change with the summer weather and as exotic grasses go to seed. The scrub and forest vegetation fuels are around normal for this time of the year.

The key objective at this point is to keep on top of this vegetation growth by mowing or cutting before it dries off, especially around houses and buildings. It is bound to get dry as summer progresses and keeping on top of the growth now will help eliminate a dangerous fuel source for fires later in the season. Try and maintain a mown grass area--green if possible--clear of trees and shrubs to act as a defensible space around all buildings.

Windthrow material and logging debris around the region which may have been burnt earlier in the year can be a source of fuel for any future fires. Please check any earlier fires to ensure they are definitely extinguished and won't re-ignite in dry windy summer conditions.

Another issue at present, particularly for farmers and contractors, with haymaking well under way, is to ensure that the hay is properly dried before baling. Hay with too high a moisture content, once stored in a stack or haybarn, is in danger of overheating and igniting through spontaneous combustion. These fires are difficult to extinguish and often lead to not only the loss of the hay but also the barn and stored machinery as well.

Farmers and contractors are also reminded to check tractors and other farm machinery for bird’s nests daily  prior to their use. Starlings in particular like warm , dry  enclosed areas to nest in and  can build a nest in minutes. Checking for bird’s nests should be part of the machines normal daily  maintenance. It is good practice to check for nests each time before  a  tractor or machine is started.  The effect of a fire starting from a bird’s nest  can be costly and disruptive.  It is also useful to check  and clear vegetation and debris  build up in machinery and when being used it is good practice to carry a suitable fire extinguisher and  have a  cell phone on hand  for  any emergency communication.

Fire restrictions are likely to be put in place by local councils prior to the Christmas break. Please check with your local council before considering lighting any fire in the open air as they could be restricted or prohibited. Remember, if you light a fire you are responsible for any damage it causes and possibly liable for fire fighting costs as well . Talk to your insurer to  make sure your property has public liability and rural fire insurance.

2013

1 February 2013
Fire danger extreme

Hot dry weather will bring extreme fire danger over the next few days meaning that one careless act could spark a devastating blaze. Any rain that may fall in the  next few days is unlikely to be of great significance and so only lead to a short reprieve to these hot, dry conditions. Please continue to be vigilant until significant rain fall occurs.

Our summer holiday weather is pushing the risk of fire into the extreme meaning fires will start easily and they will spread fast.

People must not light any fires at all over the next few days while temperatures soar and humidity plummets.

In addition, in these present conditions, avoid:

  • driving off-road
  • hot outdoor work such as grinding and welding
  • use of motorised equipment including mowers, chainsaws and scrub cutters.

In situations where people have previously lit fires, please continue to monitor the old fire site to check that it is totally out.

Back country users and all campers need to take extreme care with all cooking devices, ensuring they are in an area clear of vegetation and cannot easily be upset.

Within Canterbury there are areas of total fire ban and other areas where restrictions apply.

People are advised to contact their local rural fire authority—usually your local council for further information on activities that may cause fire and what restrictions are in place in your area.

Rural fire authorities in Canterbury have already dealt with a large number of fires this season and remain on high alert.

Please play your part and help us prevent fire incidents occurring.

Remember, if you do notice any suspicious fire activity – DIAL  111.

2012

20 December 2012
Canterbury rural fire update

So far this season fire danger conditions have generally been moderate with some periods of hotter windier weather. Areas on Banks Peninsula and the North Canterbury foothills are drier. Some recent fires have been caused by re-ignition of earlier controlled fires by strong North West winds. Please check any earlier fires to ensure they are definitely extinquished and won't re-ignite. Soil moisture on a regional basis is generally good and has lead to exceptional grass growth across the region.

The grass growth has been exceptionally thick and long in some areas. Areas not used to this level of growth will struggle to manage this vegetation. Presently the grasses are green and not presenting an immediate fire issue, but this will rapidly change with the summer weather and as exotic grasses go to seed. The scrub and forest vegetation fuels are around normal for this time of the year.

The key objective at this point is to keep on top of this green vegetation growth by mowing or cutting before it dries off especially around houses and buildings. It is bound to get dry in January and keeping on top of the growth now will help eliminate a dangerous fuel source for fires later in the season. Try and maintain a mown grass area--green if possible--clear of trees and shrubs to act as a defensible space around all buildings.

Another issue at present, with haymaking well under way, is to ensure that hay is properly dried before baling as hay with too high a moisture content, once stored in a stack or haybarn, is in danger of overheating and igniting through spontaneous combustion. These fires are difficult to extinguish and often lead to not only the loss of the hay but also the barn and possible stored machinery as well.

2011

21 December 2011
Canterbury rural fire update

So far this season fire danger conditions have generally been moderate and sometimes high periods of hotter windier weather. There are a few places in the region where there are moderate carry over drought conditions from last autumn. Banks Peninsula is especially affected by this situation. Soil moisture on a regional basis is very good and has lead to exceptional grass growth across the region.

The grass growth has been exceptionally thick and long and in some areas upto a metre in height. Areas not used to this level of growth will struggle to manage this vegetation. Presently the grasses are green and not presenting an immediate fire issue, but this could rapidly change with the summer weather and as exotic grasses go to seed. The scrub and forest vegetation fuels are around normal for this time of the year.

The key objective at this point is to keep on top of this green vegetation growth by mowing or cutting before it dries off especially around houses and buildings. It is bound to get dry in January and keeping on top of the growth now will help eliminate a dangerous fuel source for fires later in the season. Try and maintain a mown grass area--green if possible--clear of trees and shrubs to act as a defensible space around all buildings.

Another issue at present, with haymaking well under way, is to ensure that hay is properly dried before baling as hay with too high a moisture content, once stored in a stack or haybarn, is in danger of overheating and igniting through spontaneous combustion. These fires are difficult to extinguish and often lead to not only the loss of the hay but also the barn and possible stored machinery as well.

-ends-

21 December 2011
Prevention is the best weapon against fire

The fire danger for Canterbury is going to be high later this summer, likely to reach very high or extreme at times.

The Canterbury & West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee has a simple message for the public; “fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”

“Fires cost lives and destroy property and if you light a fire you may be held responsible,” “Almost all fires are easily avoidable, make sure you do all you can to prevent them.”

The committee asks everyone, whether they are at home or in the back country over the hot summer months, to strictly adhere to any fire restrictions and be aware of the fire danger. Fire seasons are advertised by local rural fire authorities who are responsible for issuing any permits and enforcing total fire bans. Even with a permit, a person lighting a fire can be held responsible and liable for any damage it may cause and the costs to put it out.

“The costs of fighting fires in rural areas passed on to the individual responsible have run into the hundreds of thousands.

“As well as tragic loss of life or property, people should be mindful that uncontrolled fires can also devastate our natural areas which may never fully recover.”

“Let’s work together to keep our rural communities and resources safe.”

-ends-

2010

9.00 am, 24 December 2010
Fire risk continues in Canterbury

Favourable weather conditions with little wind overnight have allowed fire managers on the Waimate fire in South Canterbury to release some of the fire crews for a much needed rest.

Strengthening existing containment lines and a mop up operation are the main focus for fire fighters on the Ashworth fire, north of Christchurch.

Good work by fire fighters and the use of heavy machinery overnight has resulted in 85 per cent of this fire being contained.

“The focus for today is to continue with completing the containment of the area,” says Tony Teeling, spokesman for the Canterbury and West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee.

Demand for rural fire fighters within the Canterbury and Southland regions continues with the outbreak of another forest fire in the Dunedin area.

Members of the public who see a fire or smoke should telephone 111 immediately, says Tony Teeling.

The public are encouraged to be aware of the extreme fire danger throughout Canterbury and not to risk starting a fire.

-ends-

23 December 2010
Canterbury rural fire update, Thursday 23 December 2010

Speaking from an emergency coordination centre in Christchurch today, the Canterbury & West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee advises that most of yesterdays fires have been extinguished.

There are now only two major fires still being worked on. These fires are located in South Canterbury near Waimate and just north of Christchurch near the coast.

Resources have been brought into Canterbury from around the country to assist. Fire crews have come from as far away Northland and include as many as 10 rural fire agencies.

Conditions later today and this evening are expected to be challenging for rural fire authorities with severe nor’west gales predicted prior to rain early tomorrow morning.

“Fire danger will be extreme today,” says Tony Teeling, spokesperson for Canterbury & West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee.

“The public are asked to be exceptionally careful with anything that could cause a fire. Call 111 immediately to report fire.”

ENDS

20 December 2010
Prevention is the best weapon against fire

Fire danger for Canterbury is going to be high this summer, reaching very high or extreme at times.

The Canterbury & West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee has a simple message for the public; “fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”

“Fires cost lives and destroy property and you may be held responsible,” says committee spokesperson Tony Teeling.

“Almost all fires are easily avoidable, make sure you do all you can to prevent them.”

The committee asks everyone, whether they are at home or in the back country over the hot summer months, to strictly adhere to any fire restrictions and stay aware of the fire danger. Fire seasons are advertised by local rural fire authorities who are responsible for issuing any permits and enforcing total fire bans. Even with a permit, a person lighting a fire can be held responsible and liable for any damage it may cause and the costs to put it out.

“The costs of fighting fires in rural areas passed on to the individual responsible have run into the hundreds of thousands,” says Tony.

“As well as tragic loss of life or property, people should be mindful that uncontrolled fires can also devastate our natural areas which may never fully recover.”

“Let’s work together to keep our rural communities and resources safe.”

Practical tips on fire prevention

Around your home:

  • Keep grass areas mown and short and green if possible
  • Keep firewood stacked away from the house

On holiday:

  • Trampers hunters, fishers and other holiday-makers should take care with fire and gas cookers. Back country users should be self-sufficient, carrying personal cooking equipment.
  • Cookers should be operated in a well-ventilated area and well clear of vegetation that could easily catch alight.

On the farm or lifestyle block:

  • Obtain a fire permit, if required, and notify your fire authority of your intention to burn
  • Ensure emergency vehicles have access to your house and out-buildings
  • Have an adequate water supply for fire fighting within easy access
  • Maintain machinery properly and use with care in dry conditions (in particular mowers, hay-making equipment and chainsaws)
  • Have adequate fire insurance

ENDS

4 March 2010
Late summer brings heightened fire risk

With summer finally arriving in February and March with hot temperatures and drying conditions throughout most of Canterbury, the rural fire risk has raised significantly.

Earlier rainfall throughout the region led to a very good growing season with excess vegetation now drying off and providing an excellent fuel source for fires.

“Right now, everything is drying out and the risk of fires starting and becoming large fire is very high. We are asking Cantabrians to take special care during this time to ensure they do not inadvertently start a fire,” says Tony Teeling, spokesperson for the Canterbury Rural Fire Coordinating Committee.

Central and Southern areas of the high country and parts of Banks Peninsula are presently in Total Fire Ban. In these areas no fires in the open air are allowed. This includes the likes of fireworks and flying lanterns as well a solid fuel cooking appliances.

Residents are reminded to:

  • Contact your local rural fire authority for information on fire restrictions.
  • Take special care with outdoor activities that generate heat or sparks.
  • Keep a five to ten-metre space free of combustible material around houses and outbuildings.
  • Clean rain gutters and downspouts. Remove dead plants and debris from sections.
  • Cut lawns and paddocks around buildings during cooler conditions, and water where permitted.
  • Connect a garden hose for immediate use.
  • Signpost water supplies and provide clear access routes.
  • Prepare a home inventory, and collect important documents in a safe place.
  • Make an escape plan.
  • Evacuate immediately if instructed by authorities.

Farmers are asked to take special care as harvesting in rural areas is currently in full swing. Tips for farmers:

  • Clear out any bird nests or debris from equipment prior to use.
  • Those farmers operating harvesting machinery in dry conditions should have fire extinguishers on hand at all times.
  • If farmers are burning off crop residues, follow the rules set out by the rural fire authority.
  • Before burning, check the weather forecast and be aware of changes in wind conditions.

Fire restrictions are now in force throughout most of the Canterbury region and fires may not be lit in the open without a permit. In some area there are exceptions to this: burning of crop residues subject to specific rules (check with your local rural fire authority). Barbeques and hangis are subject to special conditions and must be in areas with a high-pressure water supply.

Fire permits are considered on a case-by-case basis by the local rural fire authority, usually at the city or district council. The Department of Conservation has fire restrictions on its land all year round and a fire permit is always required.

For more information, contact Tony Teeling at 027 281 6709.

2009

17 October 2009
Firefighters prepare for a hot, dry summer and ask that the public does the same

A steady trail of firefighters in overalls of yellow and orange have been interrupting the tranquil beauty of Castle Hill village. Held over 15, 16 and 17 October, the 2009 Firefighter Challenge has been the biggest yet.

The three-day event involved 33 teams from 10 different fire authorities plus an average of 60 support personnel each day. The increasing popularity of the challenge has encouraged organiser and Fire Officer for the Department of Conservation, Tony Teeling.

“This is a huge event. We start to plan the next challenge before this year’s is over. It’s thanks to the enormous commitment of those involved that we can ensure the event’s great success year after year.” 

A vital part in preparing crews for summer, the Firefighter Challenge is designed to test their knowledge, stamina and ability to perform under pressure. It also allows experienced firefighters the opportunity to mentor newcomers.

Principal Rural Fire Officer for Waimakariri District Council, Tim Shepherd, sees the importance of this event in training the large number of volunteer firefighters throughout the region.

“We depend upon the contributions of a growing number of dedicated volunteers. The challenge is a crucial indicator of competence and offers a unique chance for our volunteers to practice a broad range of tasks, such as navigation, first aid and leadership, before a real life event.”

Principal Rural Fire Officer South Canterbury Rural Fire District, Rob Hands, “I’ve witnessed first-hand the benefits for multi-agency cooperation this event has provided over the years. The Firefighter Challenge is a vital opportunity for fire authorities to practice a coordinated approach to managing large, damaging fires.

“Our crews have shown once again that they have what it takes to combine forces and work together to protect the regions from fire.”

Despite heavy downpours adding to the challenge, Tony is concerned that this summer will prove to be hot and dry.

“After seeing just how strong our teams are under pressure, I’m happy that our firefighters are prepared for when things get hot this year, my hope is that the public will be too.”

Contacts:
Fire Officer for the Department of Conservation, Tony Teeling: 03 371 3767 tteeling@doc.govt.nz
Principal Rural Fire Officer South Canterbury Rural Fire District, Rob Hands: 027 224 7912, robh@timdc.govt.nz
DOC media liaison, Lizzy Sutcliffe: 03 371 3742, lsutcliffe@doc.govt.nz

2008

Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Fire caution urged during holiday weekend

Canterbury/West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee spokesman, Tony Teeling, says the current warm conditions have significantly increased fire risk throughout the region. Although rain is forecast for late Friday night and Saturday, people going away still need to take proper precautions to prevent rural fires.

“We have had incredibly warm conditions this week and we want to urge holiday makers to be aware of the fire risk,” said Tony Teeling. “People need to take special precautions when going out into rural areas. These areas often have a higher fire risk than in cities and towns.”

Holiday makers are advised to:

  • Take care with open flames - fires - candles - barbecues - camp fires - braziers
  • Avoid cooking barbecues or other fire risk activities when intoxicated
  • Closely supervise children and young adults
  • Taking extra care when hosting visitors overnight
  • Be aware of the fire season status and requirements to obtain fire permits
  • Ensure fires are completely put out before leaving an area

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
Rain puts dampener on experimental burns

A major research experiment on wild fire in Canterbury scrubland has been
hampered by this summer's temperamental weather, ranging from drought to
floods.

Fire researchers from Crown Research Institute Scion, supported by numerous
rural fire agencies, have conducted a large research project that involved
setting fire to privately owned Canterbury scrub to improve understanding of
fire behaviour on steep slopes.

The experimental burn programme was conducted on the Mt Torlesse Station
near Springfield as part of an international research project into the
behaviour of fires.

Ten days worth of burns were planned starting in late January, but only
three days have been suitable due to rain in the Canterbury hill country.

Scion fire researcher, Grant Pearce, says the likelihood of getting
sufficient drying in the coming weeks is very low, so the decision has now
been made to stop the burning programme and retrieve all firefighting
equipment from the site.

"Unfortunately, while drought has been experienced across the country this
summer, the Canterbury hill country experiences a climate of its own and
this summer, that has not been conducive to our research.

"In order for us to meet both the scientific objectives and strict health
and safety controls, this research can only be undertaken in very specific
conditions so despite a spate of scrub fires in the region over previous
weeks, we have barely been able to light a match."

Despite these setbacks, they have managed to collect some valuable data from
the completed burns.

"This research is aimed at helping fire agencies to better manage the
serious risks posed by wildfire, particularly in terrain where extreme fire
conditions can create unique hazards for fire fighters.

"Dry scrub fuels can burn with intense heat and long flames that move very
fast uphill. This can create fire behaviour effects on steep slopes that are
dangerous and often difficult to predict.

"In total, four of the six research burn blocks have been burnt, most of
which exhibited extreme fire behaviour, and provided good information on
fire spread rates and intensities," Mr Pearce explains.

"One of the blocks burnt unsuccessfully in unfavourable conditions. However,
even this provided useful information on the conditions required for
successful ignition and fire spread, and on the relative power of the wind
versus the slope to spread the fire under mild conditions."

These experiments were generously supported by firefighting teams from the
Department of Conservation, Selwyn District Council, National Rural Fire
Authority and other rural fire authorities from throughout the South Island
who sent fire crews to help contain the burns.

The research is being carried out in collaboration with Australian bushfire
scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation (CSIRO), with the support of the Bushfire Cooperative Research
Centre in Australia.

"A huge vote of thanks is extended to all those organisations and
individuals that have assisted with the project to date, including local
fire authorities and their staff, and out-of region suppression resources,"
says Mr Pearce.

The research is needed to enable land managers and fire agencies to better
protect life and property.

Every year in New Zealand around 4500 wildfires burn some 7000 hectares of
rural lands and fire risk is expected to increase with predicted climate
change.

The current economic impact of forest fires alone is around $20 million per
year, not including the equally devastating losses associated with damage to
rural property and infrastructure.

For more information contact:

Deborah Gray
Communications Manager, Scion
07 343 5757
021 579 488

or

Margaret Richardson
Senior Communications Advisor, Scion
027 285 6356

Tuesday, January 21st, 2008
Experimental burns planned near Springfield delayed due to wildfire activity.

Due to the recent wildfire activity in Canterbury a decision has been made to move the start date forward to next Wednesday, January 23rd. It is envisaged that we will begin equipment setup on that Wednesday and begin the fire break burning on the Friday January 25th, with the first research burn on Sunday, January 27th.

There are still other factors to consider that may impact on the burns.

  • It is highly likely that the burn area will be under a Prohibited Fire Season by mid next week.
  • A number of key personnel required for management and coordination of the burns are working of the Mt Cook Station Fire and won't finish there until this Sunday. Rob Hands who is the I/C for the burns maybe engaged on this fire for even longer.
  • Another run of wildfires could have a significant impact on our ability to resource this project.

All in all we still remain focused on trying to accommodate the research objectives, and with a little shuffling and support we may yet be successful.

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Fire Season Status Changes to Prohibited

  • Hurunui District Council: Restricted Fire Season going prohibited Saturday 19 Jan 2008 at 2400 hours.
  • Waimakariri District Council: Restricted Fire Season going prohibited Saturday 19 Jan 2008 at 2400 hours.
  • Christchurch City including Bottle Lake and Chaneys RFD's: Restricted Fire Season going prohibited Friday 18 Jan 2008 at 2400 hours.

Thursday, January 10th, 2008
Experimental burns planned near Springfield

Experimental fires on the Mt Torlesse Station, near Springfield, will begin on Monday 21 January.

The burns are conducted by Crown Research Institute, Scion, as part of an international research project into the behaviour of scrub fires on steep slopes.

Local Canterbury rural fire authorities and Australian researchers are involved in the experimental fires which will be set until March this year, depending on weather conditions.

Protecting life and property is an important aspect of the fire research says project leader Grant Pearce from Scion.

“Our communities and firefighters will be safer if we know more about fire behaviour and we will also be better equipped to control the damage caused by wildfires.”

The research will also provide fire management agencies with knowledge about how to use fire as a land management tool safely and effectively.

Wildfires occur every year across New Zealand, many in scrub vegetation, and these fires can impact significantly on communities and landowners.

All the necessary permits and consents have been obtained for the fires, and every precaution has been taken to ensure that the fires are contained. The experimental blocks will have firebreaks around them and firefighters will be on site at all times during the burns.

For further information contact:

Wilson Brown
Principal Rural Fire Officer
Selwyn District Council
Telephone 03 347 2800
or
Margaret Richardson
Senior Communications Advisor, Scion
Phone: 07 343 5420
Mobile: 027 285 6356

2007

Thursday, 20 December 2007
Fire danger extreme in ‘Great Southern Lands’

Extreme fire danger has prompted the Department of Conservation to place a total fire ban over conservation lands in the Great Southern Lands of Ashburton Lakes and Mackenzie Basin.

The ban takes affect from this Saturday 22 December until further notice on all public conservation lands.

“The ban is being assessed daily, and will probably remain in place until we get substantial rain penetrating into the dry ground,” says Tony Teeling, Technical Support Officer, Fire.

“Despite the recent southerlies dampening things down, it’s only a temporary respite until the next hot nor-wester,” says Mr Teeling.

“It could take only one or two days of hot dry conditions to dry fuels to a point where one spark could start a blaze, which can burn fast and hot and be very hard to stop.

“These areas are well-used by people fishing, walking and mountain-biking; if a fire took off down a valley, it could pose a threat to life and property,” he said.

Under the Forest and Rural Fires Act, DOC is the Rural Fire Authority responsible for preventing and controlling fire on public conservation land and within one kilometre of these lands, plus all unoccupied crown land.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
Garden Clean up Recommended to Reduce Fire Hazard

Canterbury’s rural fire fighters are calling on residents to carry out a garden and vegetation clean up.

Canterbury Rural Fire Co-ordinating Committee spokesman, Tony Teeling, says the current warm conditions are significantly increasing fire risk throughout the region.

“The warm conditions are certainly a big concern for us and we are asking residents to remove the excess vegetation now. This eliminates possible fuel around homes and properties.”

Landowners and residents are advised to clear away all vegetation close to houses and outbuildings, including dead plants and long branches on live trees and shrubs. Long grass should be mowed and empty sections should be cleared.

Mr Teeling said residents should also be mowing their lawns on a regular basis.

Rural Fire Officers are also advising people to reduce the fire risk around their homes by cleaning rain gutters and down pipes and connecting a garden hose for immediate use. In rural areas, water supplies should be sign posted and there should be clear access routes suitable for fire trucks.

Rural landowners and farmers are asked to check on earlier fires or burn-off to ensure they have been put out. Recent strong winds have whipped up earlier fires into life and have threatened to spread into dry grass and shelter belts. Residents need to be aware of forecasted weather conditions prior to lighting fires.

For further information contact:
Tony Teeling
Department of Conservation
Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer
Phone (03) 371 3700
Mobile: (027) 281 67709
or
Sara McBride Steele
Communications Officer
Environment Canterbury
Phone: 03-372-7015
Mobile: 021-928-908

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Fire restrictions are now lifted in most areas except where fire authorities have year-round restrictions in place. These areas are:

  • Ashley Rural Fire District
  • Burnham Rural Fire District
  • West Melton Rural Fire District
  • Tekapo Military Training Area
  • Department of Conservation.

Some authorities also have year round restrictions on hill and high country areas. If in any doubt, check with your local authority or council.
Find out about outdoor burning restrictions on the ECan website.

14th May, 2007

There are currently no fire restrictions in Canterbury.

19th April, 2007
Fire Danger Prompts Vehicle Ban

Public notice is given under section 22(2) of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 that from the18th day of April 2007 the prohibited fire season imposed on the 21st of February 2007 is now cancelled and an all year RESTRICTED FIRE SEASON applies to all lands administered by the Department of Conservation that are State Areas, and to the fire safety margins of any such State Areas, within the area described in the Schedule.

In National Parks no fire shall be lit in the open air except pursuant to the authority of the Director General of Conservation.

In all other areas administered by the Department no fire shall be lit in the open air except pursuant to a written permit from a rural fire officer.

The following activities are permitted within the restricted fire season:

  • Barbecues lit in properly constructed containers and fuelled with gas, solid or liquid fuel.
  • Cooking fires at camp sites lit within a concrete or stone surround and with no less than 3 metres of clear ground surrounding the container.
  • Crop residue burns are covered by a separate authority and do not require a permit provided the following conditions are complied with:

a. The Canterbury / West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee “Best Practice for Crop Residue Burning” is adhered to.
b. Fires may be lit at any time during the hours of daylight, providing all other conditions are met. Fires must not be lit, or allowed to burn after dark.
c. There must be a continuous non-combustible firebreak, of not less than five metres, around the area to be burnt.
d. No fire shall be lit while a strong wind is blowing or when conditions are such that the fire is likely to spread beyond the area for which the authority was issued. Maximum allowable wind strength is 19 kph (Beaufort 3).
e. Obtain a weather forecast (NZ Met Service, 0900 999 25 Canterbury Plains, or 0900 999 26 Canterbury High Country).
f. Notify occupiers of neighbouring properties likely to be affected by smoke drift.
g. The fire must be patrolled until it is completely out.

Provided that no such fires shall be lit when high or gusty winds are prevailing

People seeking further information or wishing to obtain fire permits or a copy of the Best Practice for Crop Residue Burning can contact the appropriate Department of Conservation office.


Department of Conservation, Christchurch
(03) 379 9758
Mahaanui Area (North Canterbury)
(03) 371 3706
Akaroa Field Centre
(03) 304 1000
Waimakariri Area
(03) 313 0820

Arthurs Pass Field Centre
(03) 318 9211
Hanmer Field Centre
(03) 315 7154
Raukapuka Area
(03) 693 1010
Twizel Area
(03) 435 1819

Schedule

Ashburton Lakes and Mackenzie Basin areas to the Main Divide, that are west of a line from the Rakaia River, up Glenrock Stream to Turtons Saddle, thence a direct line to Mount Taylor, Mount Barrosa and the Rangitata River at Boundary Stream, thence up Boundary Stream to Coal Hill, following the District Council Boundary to Mount Musgrove, thence along the top of the Two Thumb, Rollesby and Dalgety Ranges to the Hakataramea Pass, thence along the Hakataramea Road to Kurow.

The area is bordered to the south following a line along the Kurow River, the top of the Ida, Hawkdun, Wether and Dunstan Ranges to Lindis Pass, thence along the top of the range dividing the Waitaki and Clutha catchments to the Main Divide.

The area is bordered to the north by the Rakaia and Mathias Rivers, following the District Council Boundary to the Main Divide.

M.J. Cuddihy
Conservator Canterbury
(Principal Rural Fire Officer acting under delegated authority from the Minister of Conservation)

5th April, 2007

Extreme fire danger has prompted the Department of Conservation to ban vehicles on public conservation lands around Ashburton Lakes and Mackenzie Basin. The move comes after a spate of fires in Canterbury parks and reserves over the last few weekends, some believed caused by vehicle use off-road.

A fire above Lake Clearwater inland from Ashburton is believed to have started by motorbikes being ridden in extremely dry grassland areas,” said Tony Teeling, fire technical support officer for DOC.

“Conditions out there are so dry it only takes one spark to start a blaze, which can burn fast and hot and be very hard to stop. These areas are well-used by people fishing, walking and mountain-biking; if a fire took off down a valley, it could pose a threat to life and property,” he said.

Most of the Canterbury region now has fire restrictions in place, with total fire bans in the Mackenzie Basin and Ashburton Lakes areas. In other places, fire dangers are being reviewed daily to ensure the right restrictions are in place.

“Yes, we’ve had rain on the coast and in the mountains but there’s a big piece in the middle over the foothill areas that has missed out - we just can’t take the risk,” said Mr Teeling.

The vehicle ban is effective immediately and will remain in place until fire dangers lower. Gates across some access roads will be locked, with signs outlining the reasons for the temporary closure. DOC staff will be patrolling the Ashburton Lakes area over Easter.

DOC is the Rural Fire Authority responsible for preventing and controlling fire on public conservation land, all unoccupied crown land (including crown riverbeds) and within one kilometre of these lands.

Canterbury DOC fire fighters have been called out to 11 fires in the last two months.

2006

5th December, 2006
Mass Vegetation Clean up Recommended to Reduce Fire Hazard

Canterbury’s rural fire fighters are calling on residents to carry out a massive garden and vegetation clean up, following cool, wet spring conditions.

Canterbury Rural Fire Co-ordinating Committee spokesman, Tony Teeling, says the wet conditions have resulted in excessive vegetation growth, significantly increasing fire risk.

"The rain, while it gave an initial slow start to the fire season, is now creating a greater fire hazard. The vegetation is growing taller and faster than during drier years. Once the rain stops for the summer, the vegetation will continue to grow and then dry out. By removing the excess vegetation now, it eliminates possible fuel around homes and properties."

Landowners and residents are advised to clear away all vegetation close to houses and outbuildings, including dead plants and long branches on live trees and shrubs. Long grass should be mowed and empty sections should be cleared.

Mr Teeling said residents should also be mowing their lawns on a regular basis. He said the snow in Canterbury over the winter had further added to the fire hazard, especially in rural areas, where a number of branches had broken off trees. These have now dried out and would provide fuel for a fire.

Rural Fire Officers are also advising people to reduce the fire risk around their homes by cleaning rain gutters and down pipes and connecting a garden hose for immediate use. In rural areas, water supplies should be sign posted and there should be clear access routes suitable for fire trucks.


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