Soaring temperatures over the past week have meant that the already dangerous fire conditions in the Hanmer Springs Forest area have now reached a critical level.
The “Heritage Area” of the forest has become dangerously dry and has now closed its gates to public access. This serious precaution follows the closing of access to neighbouring Ngai Tahu and Department of Conservation forests last week.
The only walkway remaining open is the one by the DOC Centre known as the Woodlands Walk. The adjoining woodlands ponds and picnic site also remain open at this stage.
There is a red flag flying in the Village centre that indicates that the forest tracks are closed because of the extreme fire danger. The flag will remain in place until the dangerous conditions become favourable again.
Principal Rural Fire Officer, Brennan Wiremu, is advising anyone who is unsure which area is open to get directions from the i-SITE Visitor Centre beside the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and spa (phone 315-0020), or to phone the Hurunui District Council on 314-8816.
More information from the Stuff website:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/thepress/4829931a19753.html wrote:More recreation tracks are being closed in rare fire-safety measures after a second big blaze at Hanmer Springs.
The Hurunui District Council yesterday closed tracks in the Hanmer Springs Forest area, leaving only the Woodlands Walk open.
The precaution taken for the first time in at least 10 years follows the closure of access to neighbouring Ngai Tahu and Department of Conservation forests last week.
Yesterday's fire burnt more than 16 hectares of land west of the Hanmer Springs township.
It was brought under control by three helicopters and fire crews from Hanmer Springs, Culverden, Waiau and Waipara, as well as four volunteer parties.
Hurunui District Council principal rural fire officer Brennan Wiremu said the fire was under control, but embers and tree stumps could catch alight if the wind got up.
The fire was on a par with a fire at Glynn Wye Station on New Year's Day. That fire took five days to stamp out.
"There is a total fire ban here," Wiremu said Only gas barbecues were permitted.
The terrain was "tinder dry".
"Some of the experienced firefighters here will tell you that these are the hottest and driest conditions that they have seen for many years," he said