Northland fires under investigation
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionFires around Northland in recent weeks are all under investigation. The three fires, at Ruakaka, Waikare and Lake Ohia, occurred during an ongoing fire ban around the region.
Date: 04 February 2010
Fires around Northland in recent weeks are all under investigation.
The three fires, at Ruakaka, Waikare and last night (3 February) Lake Ohia, occurred during an ongoing fire ban around the region.
Northland’s Principal Rural Fire Officer, Chris Jenkins, says all rural fires here are investigated to determine their cause.
“Most wildfires in the region are caused by carelessness or they’re deliberately lit. They’re an unacceptable waste of resources and could have cost a life. Whoever is responsible can expect to pay the bill.”
Last night’s fire burned 20ha of bush and required three helicopters as well as ground crews through the night to extinguish.
A current campaign to reduce the number of wildfires in Northland highlights their consequences, one of which is the cost of fighting individual fires, says Mr Jenkins.
“Whoever started these fires, whether they meant to or not, will be found and they’ll find it was an expensive exercise. Even a small fire requires a wide outlay of fire fighters and equipment over time. Helicopters aren’t cheap. It’s time people realised fire fighting isn’t free - it comes out of rates and taxes - and their personal pockets if they’re at fault.”
The Department of Conservation has spent far too much in the past on fire fighting when funds should be going into active conservation management, Mr Jenkins says.
“Fires are dangerous, time consuming and often hugely destructive. All the rural fire authorities in Northland are supporting the campaign to get the incidence down. It’s up to Northlanders to support that.”
The Ruakaka fire was a good example, where it appeared a flying Chinese lantern (wrongly reported at the time as a parachute flare) lit on the beach landed on gorse. Such a fire was entirely preventable, says Mr Jenkins.
He urges people to visit the Department of Conservation’s website for information on how to prevent rural fires and look after personal safety, or contact their nearest DOC or council office or the NZ Fire Service.
“There are plenty of practical things you can do to better protect your home and yourself, such as not throwing cigarette butts away outside, not dumping garden rubbish, clearing gutters and keeping vegetation well clear of your house. If you do cause a fire accidently, the costs will be a lot less the sooner fire agencies get onto it. So anyone who sees or suspects a fire should contact 111 immediately.”
Outside fires remain prohibited throughout the region despite rain in the past week.