Concern over fire risk

. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN

Hot weather and strong wind at the weekend has Kirwee’s chief fire officer pleading with residents to maintain their properties to prevent major fires over summer.

Chief fire officer Stuart Jones is calling for residents to be vigilant and ensure they cut down long grass.

The brigade is concerned over the difficulty it is facing when trying to access rural properties with overgrown driveways.

The fire brigade is also concerned over the build-up of dry material that can fuel fires.

“We have had those couple of inches of rain and the nice hot weather. We are going to have a quick spurt of growth and everything is going to get quite long quickly before it dies off.”

MetService meteorologist Gerrit Keyser said the combination of heat and the fohn wind coming off the mountains on Saturday and Sunday made the best conditions for fires to start.

The outlook for the next four weeks shows average temperatures are set to be higher than normal in Canterbury compared to previous years.

Mr Keyser said it is expecting temperatures to be 1.7 deg C warmer on average than previous years. The average maximum in November for Canterbury is 18.9 deg C.

Mr Jones said trying to get large fire trucks and tankers up long driveways covered in overgrowth is “impossible”.

He said it is hard to get the trucks into overgrown areas where fires are developing and there are concerns over firefighters getting trapped.

“We are just damaging our vehicles if we do this and we are putting our members at risk,” he said.

Mr Jones also said the sale of fireworks should be “totally banned”.

“Especially in these winds, it was ridiculous with the winds we had out here all day Saturday. Most of Saturday night there was potential for a major disaster . . . just from stupid fireworks,” he said.

He said people are irresponsible with how they use fireworks and there are already enough displays in Rolleston and New Brighton.

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