[15 February/ Stuff]

Rural fire services have been stretched after another Canterbury wildfire in Port Hills. Director of conservation services for the eastern South Island, Andy Roberts, said 50 Department of Conservation employees are also helping with the Port Hills fires. Roberts also noted that “it has been very dry and very windy and almost all conservation regions in Canterbury are at high fire risk”. Hurunui District Council communications officer Naomi Woodham, said for most of the summer the region was under a restricted fire season, which allows “allows permitted fires in safe conditions, but works as a “prohibited” designation in parts that need it”. However, no permits were issued for the Hurunui region this year. The National Rural Fire Authority expects extreme fire danger, meaning any started fire is likely to become uncontrollable, over the next few weeks in the Canterbury region, and issued a fire ban for Banks Peninsula.