Total Fire Ban for Tinder-dry Wellington Region

7 March 2013

A total ban on outdoor fires - gas barbecues excepted - is to be imposed from 8am tomorrow (Friday 8 March) in the Wellington region.

It is the first time in 10 years that such a comprehensive ban has been imposed.

Like much of the rest of the country, the Wellington region is tinder-dry after weeks of hot weather and a serious lack of rainfall.

Rachael Thorp, Chair of the Greater Wellington Rural Fire Co-ordinating Committee, says fire-risk conditions have now elevated to an “extreme” point where local councils and the Department Of Conservation have had to impose the ban.

The ban covers all territory in Wellington City, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City, Porirua City and the Kapiti Coast District. It includes all land administered by the Department of Conservation.

“Our fantastic summer weather has pushed the fire danger up to a point where fires will start easily, spread fast and be very hard to stop,” says Ms Thorp.

“We are asking that people do not light fires and in addition avoid hot outdoor work such as grinding and welding, and use of motorised equipment such as mowers, chainsaws and scrub bars during the afternoon when the temperatures are at their peak.”

All fires in the open will be banned.  This includes cooking fires such as hangi, umu and braai, incinerators, solid fuel barbecues, camp fires, beach fires and fireworks.

People breaching the ban will be liable on conviction to six months’ imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

All fire permits previously issued are suspended until further notice.

“People must be extra vigilant during this period. Any fires in the open, or smoke seen should be reported as soon as possible,” says Ms Thorp.

The prohibited fire season will remain in place until there is a decent period of rainfall and the fire danger passes.