Permits will soon be needed to light outdoor fires in rural areas of the district.
The Northern Rural Fire Authority has declared a restricted fire season in Zone 2 (all areas outside the Aupouri and Karikari Peninsulas and coastal areas near Kaitaia) from December 10.
A restricted fire season is already in place in Zone 1 (the Aupouri and Karikari Peninsulas and coastal areas near Kaitaia) where permits are needed year-round to light outdoor fires.
This means that, until further notice, it will be an offence to light an outdoor fire in rural areas without a permit.
The restrictions do not apply to gas barbecues, hangi, cultural cooking fires, wood-fired barbecues and braziers.
These are permitted in places clear of vegetation and structures if winds are less than 15 kph.
An adult must be present at all times and an adequate supply of water should be available to extinguish the fire.
Principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor says the underlying fire danger has been steadily increasing despite occasional rain.
“We’re getting a lot of fuel growth. It only takes a little wind, which we’ve been getting plenty of, and a few dry days and suddenly we’re into the danger zone.”
The authority has held back from prohibiting fires at this stage, but will review the fire season status in both zones if hotter, dryer weather increases the fire risk.
“We want people to have the ability to light fires, but not let things get away on them.”
Mr Taylor urges the public to heed the fire restrictions and fire safety advice or risk fines and a hefty bill for fire fighting costs.
“A small rubbish fire can quickly develop into a major blaze that covers hundreds of hectares and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppress.
“Our simple message is, if you can’t control it, don’t light it.”
Permit applications can be obtained online from www.havingafire.org.nz or from Juken NZ Ltd, Aupouri Forest Headquarters, DOC’s Kaitaia and Bay of Islands offices or Far North District Council Service Centres (phone 0800 920 029 or 09 401 5200) during office hours.
Applicants should allow up to 72 hours for an inspection to be made.