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Sixteen weeks after a restricted fire season was first declared in the Manawatu District, the all-clear has been sounded for most of the region, with rain and cooler temperatures lessening the fire danger levels.
Principal Rural Fire Officer, Tony Groome, said an open fire season came into effect throughout the district at midnight on Saturday, apart from a 3km inland buffer zone from Himatangi Beach to Tangimoana.
He said the tinder dry coastal stretch would retain its restricted status and this was likely to remain in place all-year round.
A restricted season for Manawatu was first declared on December 16, but as the fire danger levels started to worsen, a total ban on all fires was then imposed on February 10. This was downgraded back to restricted on March 6 and remained in place until last weekend.
“Even though it’s now an open season, people still need to be cautious,” said Mr Groome, “and be aware that if they light large fires, not to cause a smoke nuisance for neighbours or on nearby roads.”
He said residents had generally recognised the seriousness of the situation during the “reasonably lengthy” period that the district was under a restricted or prohibited notice.
“Apart from the odd person who misinterpreted things, there were no major issues and everyone was really good in maintaining vigilance and support during an extreme fire danger period.”
Mr Groome said all Department of Conservation land in the district, including a 1km buffer zone around the areas, remained restricted.