The Greater Wellington Regional Council is calling for people to heed the total fire ban at Porirua's Whitireia Park following a small fire on the park's western beach on Sunday 6 January.
The driftwood fire flared up in the late afternoon, covering an area of about 20x30 metres. It was attended by the New Zealand Fire Service and the Wellington Volunteer Bushfire Force, who put the fire out by 9pm.
"The cause appeared to be a beach fire that wasn't properly extinguished. In fact, our Parks staff had noticed an increase in evidence of beach fires, such as charred driftwood, before the fire on Sunday," says Wayne Boness, the Regional Council's Western Principal Ranger.
"After the devastating effects of the February 2010 fire in Whitireia Park, no one wants to see another fire. The risks to nearby residents and the park itself are enormous. That's why we have a total fire ban at the park - so it's disappointing that a few are taking a risk that could affect so many. It's very fortunate that the fire was put out before it spread beyond the driftwood."
Wayne says that with the dry summer conditions, people should take extra care even in regional parks that don't have a total fire ban.
"Embers can flare up after you think you've dampened them down - you really need to be absolutely sure that there's no potential for a flare-up. And smokers: make sure your cigarette buts are fully extinguished."