Three South Island wildfires extinguished

last night have been extinguished and firefighters are warning that despite the cooler weather the danger of rural fires is still present.

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Rural firefighters had been fighting a scrub fire in Motunau in North Canterbury, one in Craigieburn, south of Arthur‘s Pass, and another at Cape Saunders on the Otago Peninsula.

Fire and Emergency‘s regional manager, Richard McNamara, said crews had been experiencing a spike in rural fires.

“The conditions are such that it‘s a good time to burn off but … if people … have walked away from burn-offs or have lit too much then the thing can get away on you, and then of course it becomes a full blown wildfire which we need to respond to.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand‘s rural region manager Richard McNamara said while fire restrictions had been lifted in some areas, people still needed to be careful when burning.

“The inland Canterbury and Marlborough areas in particular, they‘re dry and carrying a lot of what we call dry fuel, that‘s vegetation that‘s dried off and it doesn‘t take much of an ignition source to get them up and running.

“It might look green but this can be deceptive, there is still often dead vegetation from summer remaining beneath the new green growth,” he said.

Mr McNamara said if there were warm temperatures or a north-westerly forecast, people should refrain from burn-offs until the conditions change and a southerly front came through.

“We don‘t need to be spending a whole lot of time, with firefighters on the ground and aircraft in the air, chasing burnoffs which are out of control,” he said.