Bark and long grass sparks fire concerns at Hornby parks

FIRE HAZARD: Hornby resident Ross Houliston is concerned about piles of bark dumped at Denton Park being a fire hazard.

Hornby is in extreme danger of fire.

That is the view of resident Ross Houliston who is calling for action to be taken over the “extremely high fire risk” existing at Denton and Kyle Parks.

His concerns stem from the city council dumping “excess” bark behind Denton Oval which has begun to stockpile under the trees.

About 30 tonnes of tree mulch is piled next to a railway line which runs between Denton Park and Kyle Park.

“If sparks got into that from a train it could go up. It could set the trees on fire around the oval and could spread anywhere,” Mr Houliston said.

But city council community parks manager Al Hardy said the bark will be used as mulch for the gardens and its removal from Denton Park will begin in Autumn.

Mr Houliston aired his concerns to the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board last week.

He has also raised concerns over the lack of maintenance where the asbestos fencing is located at Kyle Park.

Western News reported the city council began removing the grass in November.

“City council staff have recently cut down some of the high grass and left it to dry up on the ground surface. Should this take light with the trees and the highly dense scrub that has been allowed to grow up there we would have a major fire,” he said.

The fire hazards will be raised at the Greater Hornby Residents’ Association at the end of the month.

Mr Houliston said if no action is taken by the city council, it will ask Fire and Emergency New Zealand to investigate.

Last week a total fire ban was put across the city banning any outdoor fires being lit in rural and urban areas.

Fire investigator Wayne Hamilton said he could not comment on the issue without seeing it for himself.

But he said in terms of the bark, the fire hazard depends on how it is stored.

“I think the city council are reasonably aware of how they need to store their products,” Mr Hamilton said.

Community board chairman Mike Mora said the issue has been passed onto city council staff to investigate.

City council community parks manager Al Hardy said after visiting Denton Park on Thursday it was found there is significant moisture within the piles of mulch and it is not deemed a fire hazard.

“The long grass around the piles of mulch will be addressed by parks staff next week and monitored on a monthly basis, alleviating any fire risk,” he said.