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People living in rural areas of Hastings District are being reminded that they must remain vigilant after lighting fires to dispose of unwanted vegetation.
Farmers and orchardists regularly light fires at this time of the year to get rid of unnecessary foliage but it is important to remember that the soil and surrounding vegetation remains combustible, even in the middle of winter.
Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Gordon Foster says “It is important that fires are attended at all times, as the wind strength can increase very quickly which may cause hot embers to fly into nearby vegetation. Morning is the safest time to light outdoor fires so that they have a chance to burn out before dark. A permit is required all year round when starting a fire that will remain alight after sunset.”
Mr Foster says “Fires in rural areas should only be used to burn natural substances. Other materials such as household rubbish, plastics and rubber must not be burnt in outdoor fires. Smoke and toxic fumes from that type of material can cause problems for residents of neighbouring properties.”
The quality of the air is controlled by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s airshed policy and this must be considered before lighting an outdoor fire. All open fires in Airshed 1 & 2 require a resource consent between 1st May & 31st August unless you are burning diseased trees or undertaking orchard/vineyard redevelopment on horticulture production land [orchards & vineyards]. Refer to HBRC website for further details.
Mr Foster emphasised that people should not hesitate to call 111 if they are concerned about a fire left unattended or if they feel that they are in danger from a fire. A major fire in the Hastings rural area has the potential to threaten the public and may also cause damage to public utilities, disrupt power and communication services.
If you live on a rural property and are planning to light a controlled burn or a rubbish fire, contact the Hastings District Council Rural Fire Officers on 871 5000.
More information on lighting fires in the open is available at: http://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/bylaws-part-11-fire-control-bylaw and from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council at http://www.hbrc.govt.nz