The Northland Age

Plans for private fireworks fizzle out amid ban

- Karina Cooper

The risk of wildfires in the Far North has sparked a temporary ban on the private use of fireworks in the district.

People in Karikari Peninsula, Ahipara and surroundin­g areas can buy fireworks when they go on sale tomorrow, but cannot use them until April 30.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) district manager Wipari Henwood said the four-month ban will help reduce the risk of summer wildfires.

“Ahipara and the Karikari peninsula are dry and windy, with sandy soil and flammable vegetation — all of which increase the fire danger and risk of a wildfire getting out of control.

“One stray firework could cause a disaster, which is why we are asking everyone to keep any fireworks safe in storage until the ban is lifted.”

Wipari said that included holidaymak­ers headed north this summer.

The Far North’s vulnerabil­ity to wildfires has been exposed by the Waiharara fire, which continues to burn through peat, 10 months on.

The blaze, north of Katāia, twice forced the evacuation of Kaimaumau after igniting on December 18. At its peak, the fire engulfed 2800 hectares and a significan­t amount of the Kaimaumau wetlands scientific reserve was burned.

Ahipara fire chief Dave Ross fully supports the ban as the brigade is gearing up for an extremely dry summer with a heatwave predicted to hit the west coast. “What happens is quite often a stray firework creates a spate of fires in areas that it shouldn’t,” Ross said.

Section 52 of the Fire and Emergency Act enables Fire and Emergency to prohibit or restrict certain activities. Fireworks will be available for purchase for four days those aged 18 and over. Henwood urged anyone not covered by the ban and planning to light fireworks to ensure it’s safe by visiting checkitsal­

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