Fire chief frustrated over uncontrolled burns

Rural firefighters in Otago are frustrated over the number of uncontrolled burns across the region.

A large scrub fire on hills overlooking Dunedin on Monday burned around 100 hectares, and is being treated as suspicious.

At the peak, eight helicopters were used to battle the blaze as well as a team of firefighters.

Principal rural fire officer for Otago, Graeme Still said current conditions had resulted in drier than average vegetation for this time of year.

"We're not even in the summer season and we are experiencing a hell of a lot of fires," he said.

A large scrub fire on hills overlooking Dunedin on Monday burned around 100 hectares.
A large scrub fire on hills overlooking Dunedin on Monday burned around 100 hectares. Photo credit: Supplied/FireandEmergency

He was particularly concerned at the impact the workload was having on his staff and volunteers. 

"Volunteers have jobs and lives, attending to unnecessary calls impacts on volunteer's livelihoods and family time. We are happy to help people in need, but like I said these fires are avoidable if people follow safe burning practices," said Still

Fire and Emergency Otago District had seen a marked increase in problems with large scale land preparation burns.

Still believed it was due to people underestimating the length of time burning would take and not taking into account safety considerations.

"This includes checking the weather forecast to ensure there are no strong winds predicted for the following 48 hours of burning." 

"Wind and the decrease in relative humidity is the single biggest cause of out of control fires in Otago over this period."

He said Fire and Emergency could provide advice and guidance on how to burn safely, by ringing 0800 673.

Newshub.

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