By Robyn Bristow
A total fire ban will be imposed in Canterbury from midnight, Friday, January 24 – about a month earlier than last year.
The prohibited fire season applies to the Hurunui, Waimakariri and Selwyn Districts, and Christchurch City.
All open air fires will be banned – but gas-operated appliances, barbecues, wood-fire pizza ovens, hāngis and umus less than 2m in size would be allowed.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand said the lack of rain has meant restrictions are needed earlier than last year.
Canterbury is one of the driest regions in New Zealand.
Rangiora has only received 5.8mm in the past 30 days, well below the January average of about 28mm.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand is warning people to stay vigilant, particularly in North Canterbury, where warm, windy weather is forecast for the coming weeks.
‘‘We are entering what is traditionally the height of the fire season and everyone will be incredibly mindful of the situation that has occurred in Australia these past months,’’ says FENZ integrated risk manager Darrin Woods.
‘‘While parts of fire-ravaged Australia are now receiving much needed rain, we are not likely to receive any of that in the short to medium-term.’’
‘‘Our fuel conditions continue to dry out and the look of the hills around Christchurch and the inland foothills is of an increasingly brown landscape as grass seed heads mature and cure.
‘‘We need high levels of vigilance to ensure that we don’t get any fire starts, especially during periods of elevated temperatures or strong winds,’’ Mr Woods says.