Campfires a ‘huge problem’ for DOC, ranger says

A Department of Conservation ranger says the problem of people flouting fire bans in conservation land is getting worse.

Fire restrictions are in place throughout the conservation estate year round, but people can get permits to light fires.

An unattended camp fire was discovered in the early hours of New Year’s Day by a rural fire officer in the Kaweka Forest Park in Hawke’s Bay.

Local ranger Rod Hansen said the fire was roaring and embers were flying into vegetation and it could have gotten out of control if it had not been discovered.

Mr Hansen said campfires were a huge problem.

“I think it’s probably naivety. There are always cases where people are flouting it. That’s certainly the case in some of the campfires we get in the Kuripapango campsite because they drive past three fire signs in there, and that’s flouting it when you drive past a fire sign hard by your window.

“I think a lot of times people think it’s only a small fire and it won’t do any harm, but small fires can grow into big fires,” Mr Hansen said.