Tasman fire: Farmers, contractors warned not to use machinery

Civil Defence is warning against using outdoor machinery in the Nelson region, as work continues to get the fires there under control.

There is extreme fire danger in Nelson and the Waimea and Motueka valleys and firefighters say they'll be will be working on the blaze well into March.

Civil Defence Controller Rob Smith said farmers, contractors and anyone using certain types of outdoor machinery in part of the Nelson Tasman region will need to defer their activities because of the extreme fire danger in Nelson and the Waimea and Motueka valleys.

"One spark could be enough to cause a fire in these conditions," he said.

Mr Smith issued a directive under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act meaning a number of high-risk activities are prohibited in a defined area for the duration of the State of Emergency.

These include those where metal meets stone such as mowing, discing, harrowing, stump grinding and cultivation.

"Outdoor activities that can generate sparks or fire are also prohibited, and include gas cutting, welding, angle grinding, and all use of chainsaws and scrub/bar cutters," said Mr Smith.

Commercial forest harvesting activities are also to cease, however provision can be made for the loading and mobilising of harvested material from landings.

Mr Smith said he was mindful that this would cause some inconvenience, but it was an essential precaution to help prevent more fires during the current period of extreme fire danger.

He said there are exceptions where operations are on bare earth, pavement, seal or hard inflammable surface, and there is adequate (pressurised) fire control available, or those activities not generating fire risk such as horticultural spraying or feeding stock.

The prohibition will not apply to firefighting activities or activities authorised by the Controller that reduce fire risk.

"Landowners should be aware that many activities on land can cause fires and people should take action and be aware of what constitutes good fire management protocol. For example, not parking vehicles on long, dry grass, disposing of cigarette butts inside your car, not mowing domestic lawns, and making sure electric fences are not arcing."

"We will be talking with Federated Farmers and other industry groups and local contractors to enlist their cooperation."

The prohibition would be reviewed this coming Tuesday 12 February, when the present Civil Defence declared emergency is reviewed.