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We’ve had more rain than usual this summer but that doesn’t mean it’s cut down the fire risk.
In fact, the rain has generated so much grass growth that it’s pushed up the risk of grass fire in southern parts of the region. From Cape Campbell, through the Awatere to Molesworth, the fire risk is high to very high.
As the area dries up, our Rural Fire Service fears we’ll see an increase in the number of fires.
Anything can spark a fire – as seen in Redwood Pass Road early in January when a magpie was charred by power lines, sparking a grassfire - the first time our Principal Rural Fire Officer had ever seen such a thing in 40 years fire-fighting!
Mowing grass or topping paddocks is a very common cause of fires in Marlborough; tractor exhausts or mower blades striking stones can cause sparks, which will start a fire during the hottest part of the day. On hot windy days it’s wise to do this kind of work early morning or in the evening. Better still, wait for a cloudy day.
A restricted fire season came into effect in Marlborough before Christmas and permits for very large heaps containing heavy fuels such as large logs are being refused because of the risk that embers and ash will stay alight for weeks and in some instances months. The possibility of an escaped fire into the long, rapidly drying grass is very high.
There are also special fire protection zones in parts of Marlborough where a fire permit is always required 12 months of the year before lighting a fire in the open.
Marlborough District Council and the Department of Conservation are responsible for granting fire permits, depending on the location of the fire.
For fire permits and information phone the Council on Ph: 03 520 7400.