25 November 2015
Extreme Fire Risk Warning
UPDATE 14.38 Thursday 26 Nov: The MetService predicts Gore will be among the areas worst affected by the gale force winds, which are due to arrive this afternoon and last until the morning.
The Southern Rural Fire Authority has issued an extreme fire danger warning for Southland for tomorrow (Thursday 26 November) due to strong winds and high temperatures forecast.
Southern Rural Fire Sally Chesterfield said “the strong North West winds will bring warm, dry conditions to Southland, significantly increasing the risk of fires occurring and spreading rapidly. We are asking people not to light fires while these conditions persist”.
Southern Rural Fire is urging people to check their fire sites if they have burnt in the last couple of months.
Ms Chesterfield says “there have been a number of escape fires across Southland caused from fires that were thought to be out weeks or months ago”.
A crust can form over a bed of embers, giving the appearance that the fire is out, however the heat can be held deep in the embers for long periods of time. Wind events then blow the embers back into life and transport them into unburnt vegetation
Southern Rural Fire is currently resourcing an extensive fire in Dipton that started on Monday. Ms Chesterfield says “this fire has committed a lot of equipment and people to ensure it remains contained”.
There is concern the forecasted winds will place extra strain on the Southern Rural Fire and Fire Service ability to respond to calls.
Southern Rural fire is urging people to:
• Not light any fires.
• Check fires that have been burnt weeks or months ago.
• Extinguish any fires that are currently burning.
• Report any suspicious fires – RING 111.
The extreme fire danger means activities such as grinding, welding and mowing lawns may create accidental fire. Southern Rural Fire is asking people not to undertake these activities unless necessary. If they need to undertake grinding or welding they should ensure there is clear ground around the site and water or a fire extinguisher available to control a fire.
The Met Service has issued a severe weather warning for Southland. An active front coming in from the Tasman in a north/northwest direction is due to arrive in Southland at about noon tomorrow (Thursday 26/11) and will last through Thursday night, dying down about mid-morning on Friday (27/11).
Wind gusts are expected to reach 120-130kph throughout Southland and up to 150-160kph on hill-country down slopes. Heavy rain is expected in Fiordland with some likely to spill over into Southland.
Motorcyclists, cyclists and motorists with high-sided and light vehicles are advised to take extreme care.
People should secure trampolines and other loose outdoor items, and boaties need to secure their moorings.