‘Cowboys’ selling wet wood
Firewood retailers are warning consumers to watch out for ‘‘cowboys’’ selling wet wood on social media.
Demands for firewood in Christchurch is peaking ahead of winter, with wait times for bigger loads already stretching out to more than two months.
City Firewood manager Robbie Harris said he had heard complaints from customers saying wood they had bought online was too wet and would not burn, so they had to buy more firewood from a retailer to keep their home warm.
Harris said opportunists were taking advantage of the fact firewood became scarcer when demand went up.
‘‘They are advertising on social media that their wood is dry, or ready to burn, or ready next week, except that it is not,’’ he said.
‘‘Unfortunately, we get lots of people coming in who have been conned by these people. Surprisingly this wood isn’t even cheap, it’s often comparable, or even more expensive than our wood.’’
Harris said there was still plenty of wood available, though not in every variety, and his staff were working hard to prepare to fill back orders.
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) projections suggest this winter will be similar to last year – quite cold.
Harris expected demand would be high for firewood topups and last-minute stock-ups.
Many delayed buying firewood because of the extended good summer weather, then rushed to place orders when the temperature dropped.
City Firewood staff were working seven days a week to fill the order backlog, with some customers waiting up to nine weeks for large loads due to the time it took to produce dry, seasoned wood. Harris said smaller loads were available at any time.
A recent surge in exports to more than 1.1 million cubic metres of logs a month has created a shortage of some specific firewood varieties in the South Island.
Styx Firewood owner David Richards said he had been dealing with very high demand since February.
‘‘We are managing to keep it down to a couple of weeks for deliveries, but firewood is in very short supply in the city.
‘‘With a huge overseas demand, it’s all going to the port and we get what’s left.’’
A staffer from City Firewood in front of a six metrehigh pile of kiln dried firewood.