5 Feb 2009

One-third of NZ under total fire ban

6:39 pm on 5 February 2009

More than a third of New Zealand is now under a total fire ban.

On Thursday, bans were announced for Northland and most of Otago, including Dunedin.

Total fire bans have already been imposed on much of the North Island's East Coast, Marlborough and Canterbury.

It is Dunedin's first total fire ban for five years and covers most of the wider rural area, Dunedin City and the Otago Peninsula.

Whangarei is experiencing its driest summer in 11 years and a total fire ban comes into force for the whole of Northland from midnight on Monday.

No fires of any kind are allowed, including incinerators and charcoal or wood-fired barbecues.

The National Rural Fire Authority says the fire ban season has started a little later than previous years, but with hot temperatures set to extend into March the fire risk is predicted to rise further.