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Complaints about the nuisance and health effects of smoky fires led Hastings District Council Environmental Health and Fire Bylaw Officers to extinguish 27 outdoor fires around the Havelock North area yesterday.
Weather conditions created a temperature inversion layer, trapping smoke at low levels in the Havelock North hills and on the Heretaunga plains. This created a smoke nuisance for people with breathing difficulties, as well as for many homes and residents trying to dry laundry outside.
The fires ranged in size from small garden rubbish and damp leaves, to orchard removals and prunings, along with fires on several very large property blocks being cleared of trees and vegetation for future housing development.
Paul Hawke, the council’s Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, said the smoke pollution yesterday and the high level of air pollution reported by the HB Regional Council last week highlighted the need for careful consideration when lighting outdoor fires.
“Because particles from smoky fires can harm health and the environment, there are limitations on what can be burnt and when. The Bylaw says smoke, ash, odours or other gases from the fire must not cause a problem beyond the owner's boundary.”
Mr Hawke said only well-dried material should be burnt, as green or damp vegetation creates large amounts of smoke. Fires must not be lit at night without a special permit to do so, and should never be left unattended while burning.
Council officers are happy to provide free advice to anybody unsure about conditions before lighting a fire. Similar information is also published on the council’s website www.hastingsdc.govt.nz