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Restricted Fire Season for the Bay of Plenty – FENZ

The Bay of Plenty will move to a restricted fire season from 6am on Thursday 15 February, until further notice.

A restricted season means no open-air fires can be legally lit unless a fire permit has been applied for and approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

The restricted fire season covers the Fire and Emergency Bay of Plenty region which includes Tokoroa, Rotorua, Central Lakes, North Central and South Plateau, Urewera, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Tauranga and Kawerau, as well as Tongariro and Taupō in South Waikato.

Declaring the change of fire season, District Manager Jeff Maunder says there has been very little rainfall across most of the Bay of Plenty in the past two weeks which has dried out grass and vegetation significantly and increased the fire risk.

“There is also little rain forecast for the next few weeks, so vegetation and grass will continue to dry out, further increasing the fire danger,” he says.

“This means vegetation fires will start more easily, spread more rapidly and be more difficult to control.”

“We have the largest block of commercial forestry in New Zealand (over half a million hectares) in the Bay of Plenty plus a million hectares of Department of Conservation land.

“Many of these forestry areas are surrounded by ungrazed grass and scrublands which can transfer fires rapidly to forested areas.

“The vegetation fire on Matakana Island in December and January showed us just how rapidly a fire can spread, even in less dry conditions than we have now.

“Our primary focus is on protecting people and property and a restricted fire season enables outdoor fires to be managed more closely through the permit system,” he says.

“We ask anyone considering lighting a fire to please visit www.checkitsalright.nz This tool enables you to check what fire season your area is in, provides safety tips if you are able to light a fire, and access to apply for a fire permit.”

 

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