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Fire risk in Northland high

There is a high potential of scrub fires in Northland at the moment. File photo.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is urging Kaipara and wider Northland residents to think twice about lighting rubbish fires as temperatures soar and grass and vegetation dry out, with fire crews attending several scrub and rubbish fires already this month.

Fire crews from Ruawai and Paparoa attended a bonfire at Matakohe on December 31 and a rubbish fire in Pahi on January 1.

An unpermitted fire was extinguished on Redhill Rd Aratapu on January 4, and another rubbish fire was put out on SH14.

Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, Clinton Lyall, says it’s important people check their local fire status to see if they need a permit to light an outdoor fire.

“Northland is getting dry, and things can quickly get out of control. Even though the grass seems to be fairly green — it’s deceptive with hot temperatures and the low humidity in the later parts of the day driven by wind.”

In the Far North, a scrub fire in Taipa last week burned through one hectare of land, and a huge fire in Matawai, south of Kaikohe burned through 60 hectares of bush and took four days to extinguish.

Deputy Principal Fire Officer Wayne Martin said: “With the conditions at the moment, particularly since Christmas, we haven’t had any rain and we’ve had high temperatures and afternoon winds. Northland is drying out.

“People need to start being more vigilant around getting permits, and question whether they really need to be burning rubbish at this time of year.”

Residents wanting to light an outdoor fire must get a permit, which is free and can be obtained online at checkitsalright.nz or by phoning 0800 658 628.

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