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Postpone planned fires until closure

Farmers and neighbourhood owners in the Otago and Southland regions are being asked not to light fires until insulation is complete to reduce the risk to firefighters.

Southland Chief Fire Officer Timo Birlin says even well controlled burns will cause problems at the moment because people see smoke and dial 111, believing they are reporting an escaped fire.

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Crews always come in for 111 calls and have protective gear and procedures to make it safe.

“But we would like our firefighters to stay safe in their bubbles and not respond to avoidable fires,” says Birlin.

Strong north-westerly winds are forecast for Otago and Southland today and tomorrow, which will increase the risk of any planned land management fires getting out of control.

Crews have already responded to four vegetation fires in the region since isolation began and Timo Birlin is keen to avoid them while the region remains at COVID level four warning.

“We understand that many people will spend their time doing projects around the property and usually this can mean farmers clearing vegetation or people starting fires to get rid of green waste. We just ask people to do the right thing and refrain from burning until we come out of isolation”.