The Department of Conservation (DOC) urges farmers to comply with fire permit conditions and take extra care after several recent fires escaped and subsequently burnt onto public conservation land in Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts.
Many controlled burn-offs are being carried out in rural areas at the moment. DOC’s Otago Conservator and Principal Rural Fire Officer, Marian van der Goes, reminds fire permit holders to check weather forecasts before lighting fires and make sure fires are carefully attended.
Anyone responsible for causing a fire which spreads to public conservation land can be held liable for the cost of putting it out. She advises rural landowners to check they have adequate rural fire insurance cover in case of a fire.
All open air fires, other than a gas barbeque, must have a permit from DOC or your local council. There is a year-round restriction on fires on all public conservation land and, where a safety margin applies, within 1km of this land.
Fires can have a devastating effect on the flora, fauna and natural character of the Otago region, not to mention the potential risk to people, buildings and farmland.