Introduction

Spreading the network of pest control traps and bait-stations has taken a backseat for conservation rangers who have been diverted to fight far more imminent threats.

DOC firefighting staff extinguish a small blaze near Kutarere.
DOC firefighting staff extinguish a small blaze near Kutarere

Spreading the network of pest control traps and bait-stations has taken a backseat for conservation rangers who have been diverted to fight far more imminent threats of late.

DOC services ranger Pete Livingstone said fire has once again become the number one focus as the Eastern Bay of Plenty dries out.

Pete and his colleagues have been to several fires, thankfully all small ones, which have been started under conditions that make them particularly risky.

“We’ve had hot days and not much rain and, combined with strong warm winds, this is a recipe for a runaway blaze.”

Pete said an incinerator fire before Christmas sparked a quite scary blaze through pampas in the Kutarere area and the local residents were lucky to be able to keep it in check without losing their house or having a large area of reserve torched.

And it’s not a one-off; DOC staff attended another small fire in the same location on Monday.

Pete said that even though most people are reasonably sensible, the conditions at this time of year can catch them out.

He said the DOC response will be to throw plenty of effort at bringing unpermitted fires within 1 km of a conservation area under control.

“That gets expensive with staff, fire equipment and even helicopters likely to be deployed.

“It costs DOC in both dollars and in lost staff time for our regular conservation work.”

Pete said it can also result in whoever lit the fire being billed for the expenses. “The main message is ‘don’t light up at this time of year’ - if you really do have to: get a permit first.”

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