Gale force winds bring fire danger in Otago and Southland

A vegetation fire broke last week in Otago.
A vegetation fire broke last week in Otago. Photo credit: FENZ

Residents in Otago and Southland are being warned of increased fire danger due to predicted gale force winds. 

Last week firefighters were kept busy as strong winds fanned many fires across Otago and now Metservice has issued a number of weather watches for Wednesday.

Clutha, Southland and the Fiordland Lakes areas are expected to get strong winds between 4am until 12pm and the Canterbury High Country from 7am to 8pm.

Fire and Emergency (FENZ) are warning of the increased fire danger and are asking residents to be responsible and refrain from lighting fires until conditions ease.

"Spring brings with its equinoctial winds (seasonal winds), blowing away the cold wintery weather and ushering in warmer summer days. During this period of change, we experience an increase in wind events and changeable fire danger," a spokesperson said.

"Although Otago has had some rain, frosts, warm days and wind have dried tussock, grasses and other light material, making it very easy to ignite. People need to be extra careful and think about what they are doing."

FENZ is asking for people who have burnt in the last two months to check old sites to ensure the fire is out, and turn the area over. 

"A small amount of heat in an old fire site can re-ignite and winds transport embers into surrounding vegetation."

Metservice has also issued road snowfall warnings for Lindis Pass (SH8) and Crown Range Road on Tuesday night.

Brief periods of snow are expected with a maximum of 2cm of snow expected.

Metservice meteorologist Angus Hines said two cold fronts will be moving up over the South Island in the coming days.

But he said the fine weather in the North Island is expected to continue on Wednesday. There are no weather watches or warnings in the North Island.