Total fire ban for Bay of Plenty

By Will Trafford

A total fire ban has been imposed on the Bay of Plenty district including South Waikato amid fears dry conditions could trigger wildfires.

The ban which came into force at 8 am today means all previously granted fire permits are suspended and nobody in the Bay of Plenty can light an open air fire.

Fire and Emergency Bay of Plenty district manager Jeff Maunder says current climate conditions have triggered the predetermined district fire plan.

“The temperatures are high and dry and the humidity is low, making it the perfect condition for fires to get out of control.”

Maunder says the community also needs to take extra care with activities that could cause sparks.

"Reduce your risk as much as possible - it takes just one spark to start a wildfire. Have plenty of water available, wait until the morning or evenings when the humidity is higher and temperatures are cooler, and if possible undertake the activity on cleared bare ground,"

A new report from government climate and forecasting agency Niwa reveals much of the northern part of the North Island is approaching drought conditions, including Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.

Wildfires in Tai Tokerau, hardest hit by the dry conditions have been raging in regions from Ahipara to Waiharahara since mid-December.