Fire and Emergency New Zealand is warning that due to climate change and the change in weather pattern from La Nina to El Nino, we can expect a windy and dry summer. That means there is a heightened fire risk, which is especially alarming when it comes to our local forests.
Did you know…
- 98% of wildfires are caused by people in NZ
- Approximately 3% of wildfires develop into large-scale events. Think 2017’s Port Hills, 2019’s Tasman, 2020’s Lake Ohau, and 2021-2022’s Waiharara…
- On average, there are 4500 wildfires in NZ a year
- These big fires are happening in shoulder months, rather than the typical summer period
Wildfires can be absolutely devastating. NZ Geo magazine reported that “extinguishing the Port Hills fire took 66 days, 14 helicopters, three fixed-wing planes, and hundreds of firefighters and members of the Defence Force. It burned 1660 hectares, forced the evacuation of 1400 people from 450 households, destroyed nine house and damaged five – the the biggest loss of people’s homes to fire in 100 years. A helicopter pilot was killed fighting the blaze.”
Wildfires are estimated to cost us $1b a year in damages.
As a result of our changing climate and elevated risk, we need to be prepared and make sure we are all educated about the risks associated with fire and people’s livelihoods.
What can you do to be fire-safe?
- Before you light a fire of any kind, check the local fire danger level at checkitsalright.nz
- Look to build a ‘defensible space’ around your home and buildings if you are rural or semi rural
- Keep your lawns mown
- Regularly clear out leaves, pine needles and debris from your house gutters
- Be vigilant when disposing of fire ashes. Don’t put them in your rubbish immediately; leave them on a concrete pad away from forest or buildings to burn out
- Don’t throw smoke butts out the vehicle window
- See checkitsalright.nz for how to reduce your risk of causing a fire. It has helpful insights on spark-generating activities (fireworks, tractors, 4WDs, motorbikes, mowers, chainsaws, brushcutters etc), as well as outdoor fires, including campfires, hangis, pizza ovens, fire pits, gas BBQs, burn piles and more
Check out checkitsalright.nz now to see how you can be better prepared for a fire and how to reduce the risk of fire.