Extreme fire risk and tinder-dry conditions in Canterbury’s Selwyn district are forcing officials to put a hold on fire permits in the area.
The Selwyn District Council has introduced a prohibited fire season, which will come into effect from March 1. The area has seen several devastating fires this summer, including one which destroyed four homes and sparked widespread evacuations.
No outdoor fires can be lit under the new rules, including the burning of crop stubble. Gas barbeques are the only exception, but residents must have a high-pressure water source close by when cooking.
Principal rural fire officer Wilson Brown says that a lack of rain is behind the tinder-dry conditions.
“We recognise that restrictions on the ability of farmers to burn crop residue will be frustrating,” he says, “but our primary focus must be on reducing the fire risk in the district in order to protect lives and property.”
The council will be reviewing the status regularly, Mr Brown says, but restrictions won’t be lifted until it’s considered safe to do so.
All fire permits previously issued by the council are cancelled under current conditions.