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Fire ban issued in Northland, Auckland Council makes BBQ appeal

18:10 Tue, 29 Jan 2013
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The dry, warm weather bathing the country has prompted the fire service to issue a blanket fire ban in Northland.

Northland Rural Fire Authority has declared a total outdoor fire ban across the Far North District.

Principal fire officer Myles Taylor said the authority had no choice to ban outdoor fires as no significant rain has fallen on the district for weeks.

"Out of control fires cost the authority over $2.1 million last year and we are trying to prevent costs escalating again this year," said Taylor.

Fire services have already been called out to numerous small fires this season, including a big scrub fire at Poutu near Dargaville last week.

"We have been lucky so far and have been able to contain most of these before they have escalated into major events," Taylor said.

"The big fire at Poutu shows how quickly small fires can spread and the damage that can be caused before control is established."

Taylor said it was disappointing that the authority had already had to invoice ten property owners for fire fighting costs.

"Apart from being a very costly exercise for those responsible, it is frankly madness to be attempting to burn off at this time of the year."

The ban will take effect from midday tomorrow.

Gas barbeques are allowed under the ban and the authority says it will consider special permits for hangi fires.

BBQs a no-no as fire risk increases

Auckland Council is appealing to park visitors to leave their portable BBQs at home.

A complete fire ban has been put in place for Auckland, which includes Great Barrier, Kawau, Waiheke and the other Hauraki Gulf Islands.

Coal and wood BBQs are not allowed under the total fire ban, including portable solid fuel BBQs, any wood or coal fired BBQs in parks and disposable BBQs that can be bought from supermarkets or hardware stores.

Parks, Sports and Recreation acting manager Mace Ward said despite council issuing a total fire ban last week, park staff are still finding people lighting solid fuel BBQs and open fires in the region's parks.

"It only takes a single spark or ember to start a serious fire in grass or bush-clad parks. Our regional and beachfront parks are particularly dry, yet some visitors are not thinking about the impact their careless actions might have.

"We are asking all park visitors to leave their coal and wood-fired BBQs at home and either bring alternative picnic foods or use the gas or electric BBQs provided."

All solid fuel BBQs on parks have been decommissioned and council-supplied firewood has been removed. Fire ban signs have been installed across the parks network.

Ward said fireworks are also prohibited.

Source ONE News

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