Very high fire danger forecast for Manawatū-Whanganui this weekend

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Urgent warnings and safety measures issued by Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has issued an urgent warning to the residents of Manawatū, Whanganui, and Horowhenua, advising against lighting any fires this weekend due to an anticipated very high fire danger.

The warning, issued on 26 January 2024, comes as the fire danger is forecast to reach its peak in central and lower Whanganui, lower Rangitikei, central and lower Manawatū, and all of Horowhenua.

Temporary suspension of fire permits and heightened concerns

District Manager Nigel Dravitzki conveyed the severity of the situation: “We are suspending all current fire permits issued for the coastal zone until Monday 29 January because of the increased fire danger, which is the highest we have seen so far this summer.”

This decision underscores the gravity of the potential fire threat in the region.

Dravitzki also expressed particular concern about coastal areas, where a restricted fire season is already in place.

He urged the public to heed the warning: “Our message to the public is do not light fires this weekend.”

Preventive measures and public safety advice

In addition to refraining from lighting fires, the public is advised to avoid activities around dry scrub and grass that could cause a spark, such as driving a vehicle, mowing, or welding.

Dravitzki explained, “The fire danger is such that a spark could easily start a fire that would spread quickly and be very difficult for our firefighters to put out.”

He also advised anyone who has recently lit a fire to ensure it is completely extinguished.

“Dig it up, pour water over it and check with the back of your hand there is no heat,” he instructed.

Uncertainty regarding the impact of forecast rain

While some rain is forecast over the weekend, Dravitzki cautioned that it may not be sufficient to alleviate the fire danger risk.

For more information and tips on reducing fire risk, the public can visit

Urgent warning for heightened fire danger

Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s warning is a response to the very high fire danger forecast for the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

The suspension of fire permits and the advice against lighting fires are measures to prevent potential large-scale fire incidents.

Precautionary measures to prevent fire outbreaks

Residents are advised to avoid activities that could cause sparks or heat near dry vegetation.

Those who have recently conducted burn-offs are urged to ensure all embers are completely extinguished to prevent accidental fires.

Advice for the public in fire-prone areas

The public is reminded to stay vigilant and follow safety guidelines.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand provides resources and tips for fire prevention and safety on their website.

IFSJ Comment

The warning issued by Fire and Emergency New Zealand regarding the very high fire danger in the Manawatū-Whanganui region is a timely reminder of the ever-present threat of wildfires, especially during dry and windy conditions.

The proactive measures, including the suspension of fire permits and the call to avoid fire-related activities, reflect a necessary caution to prevent potential disasters.

This situation highlights the critical role of community awareness and cooperation in fire prevention and safety.

It also underscores the importance of adhering to guidelines set by fire and emergency services, especially in regions prone to such risks.

As climate patterns continue to change, the likelihood of similar warnings may increase, making it essential for communities to remain informed and prepared for such eventualities.

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