Wed, Jan 10, 2024 12:16 PM

Extreme fire risk closes Wither Hills Farm Park


Staff reporter

Marlborough District Council has closed the Wither Hills Farm Park to the public from tonight for the foreseeable future due to extreme fire risk, with the support of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

With recent hot and dry conditions and following discussion with Fire and Emergency (FENZ), Council is closing the park in the interest of public safety.

Parks and Open Spaces Manager Jane Tito said FENZ reviewed the fire danger status daily and given current conditions had recommended closure due to the high fire risk.

“Given the mixture of dry grass in the park, warm temperatures and windy conditions, a fire would spread very quickly placing people at extreme risk,” she said. “We have received the latest report from FENZ who have recommended a full closure until conditions change enough to decrease the fire danger.”

FENZ Group Manager for Nelson Marlborough District Chris Hayles said with no significant rain forecast in the near future and fire risk increasing on a daily basis, his recommendation was for a full closure.

“Going off the current indices, a fire in the Wither Hills Farm Park would readily ignite, be extremely fast spreading, difficult to control and have extreme fire intensity,” he said.

“We could expect to see 10-metre flame heights with the length of the dry grass in areas of the park.”

The situation would be monitored daily and the closure would be reviewed if there was significant rain, Ms Tito said.

FENZ imposed a total fire ban in the Marlborough South area from this morning due to the extreme fire danger and very high fuel s through the district.

All active fire permits are suspended.

The Marlborough South zone includes all land south of the Wairau River including the flat land from the eastern side of SH1 from Tua Marina to Rarangi.

The annual King and Queen of the Withers, due to be held on Saturday, has been cancelled.

Park users are reminded of other excellent recreational areas in Marlborough including Pollard Park pathways, the Taylor River Reserve and Picton’s tracks and trails.

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