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Taking precautions

13 Feb 2017 11:46 am

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Summer has finally, truly arrived with clear skies and soaring temperatures. Our early summer was hindered by a constant and niggling wind which made it feel like summer was slow to arrive. However, don’t be deceived, as the one constant fact throughout has been a lack of rain. Most of us have borne witness to this by our low or empty water tanks. Personally, I know that we have spent more than a few bucks replenishing our water tank. So what are the combined results of the above facts? Dry, dry, dry! And it doesn’t look like changing any time soon.

With this dry weather it is time to increase our awareness and precautions against property, scrub and forest fires. So what are the precautions you can take? No fires to start with. That means no backyard burn offs, no braziers toasting marshmallows with the kids and no fireworks, just to name a few. Be aware of any visible smoke and check with your neighbours if unsure. Smokers, in particular, please take care when disposing of cigarette butts. A careless flick of a cigarette butt out of a moving car window can be particularly dangerous.  Leigh and Matakana Brigades recently attended a tree fire in Whangateau. The base of a coastal pohutakawa tree had been smouldering and then burning, possibly for hours, before being noticed by a passerby just after sunrise. The fire had worked its way into the hollow interior of the tree trunk. The fire was quickly contained and extinguished by the attending the fire crews. However, getting to the hollow interior of the tree was a challenge and had to be carefully managed so that the fire was extinguished and damage to the tree minimised so as to preserve its existence. After all, the pohutakawa is NZ’s favourite Christmas tree! A slightly different set of timings and/or circumstances could have meant the fire spreading unnoticed into the surrounding bush and becoming a much more difficult situation to bring under control. It is suspected the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette butt, landing in dry leaf litter at the base of the tree and the fire smouldering and spreading from there. The thoughtless person had clearly moved on with their travels and is likely to have been totally unaware of the situation left behind with their careless actions.

Several hours later, fire crews had to be called out of their beds to rectify the situation – a simple and avoidable situation. So without wishing to sound like a ‘smoker knocker,’ please be sure to extinguish your cigarette and better still dispose of it in your car ashtray. Better for the environment, too.

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