Home' Christchurch Mail : January 31st 2013 Contents 8 CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, JANUARY 31, 2013
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Civil Defence and emergency
management boss Murray Sin-
clair has a message for Christ-
church and rural districts: Don t
do something that can cause a
Property owners could get a
surprise bill for a callout on top
of what they had already lost, he
If we need to put out a fire,
whether it is because someone has
been careless or not, the costs can
be significant. People may not be
aware that if they cause a fire
that fire services need to respond
to, the costs for putting it out may
be on-charged to them.
Care and responsibility was
required both in rural areas and
the city, he said.
Of particular concern are reck-
less use of fireworks, lawn-
mowing on hot, windy days, using
power tools that spark and
discarding cigarettes without
extinguishing them fully.
Private property owners could
reduce fire hazards in summer by
ensuring their properties were
well-maintained, Mr Sinclair said.
Long grass and dense vegeta-
tion are not hazards in themselves
but once a spark is generated they
can become a risk.
City council inspections and en-
forcement head Gary Lennan said
the recent spate of fires has high-
lighted the need for personal res-
ponsibility for individuals own
Having a well-maintained prop-
erty greatly reduced the fire risk.
Cutting grass regularly, trim-
ming overhanging trees and
removing excess vegetation was
the best defence to counter the
spread of fire.
The Fire Service responds to all
fire calls placed through 111.
Residents with concerns about
fire hazards can call the council on
9418999 or 0800 RING CERA
(0800 7464 2372).
JOINT EFFORT: Defence Force fire crews and rural firefighters joined forces to control the blaze.
Photo: DAN TOBIN/FAIRFAX
Inquiry opens into blaze
By ANNA PRICE
THE ARMY started live
firing again yesterday at
their West Melton rifle
range a week after the
big blaze that swept
across 50 hectares of
Residents living near
the range received a let-
ter from the Defence
Force saying it had been
cleared for live rifle firing
but grenades would not
An Army court of
inquiry is underway this
week into the fire which
is believed to have been
caused by a live grenade
during training last
Selwyn Civil Defence
chief Douglas Marshall
understood that the
army had reassessed the
risks, considered the con-
cerns of neighbours and
looked at their own train-
ing needs in the decision
to resume live firing.
"On the basis of this,
the army believes there
is little or no risk from
small arms fire training."
Council, he said, would
have preferred a long
spell from the range "on
basis what community is
Around 100 live
grenades might have been fired at
the range on the outskirts of
Christchurch in the morning
before the fire erupted.
Army fire crews and rural fire-
fighters battled all afternoon to
bring the fire under control.
Burnham Military Camp Com-
mander Major Bill Blair said the
inquiry would establish how it
The inquiry could take a week
Grenade training was carried
out on a grass-free, prepared sur-
face with a Defence fire tender
and crew standing by, Major Blair
As soon as fire ignited they
rushed to put it out. But it took off
fast and got away.
The rifle range signpost had
been there since World War II, he
But actually, it is a NZ Defence
Force piece of real estate.
It is designated Defence Force
land under the Selwyn district
Whatever weapons systems
can be accommodated there are
used, from the rifle to hand
grenades and sub-calibre devices.
systems had been shifted from
West Melton to the more remote
training terrain at Lake Tekapo.
The army could face charges
over Wednesday s fire.
Selwyn MP Amy Adams said
she was most concerned to learn
that the Defence Force had
decided to proceed with live firing
exercises at its rifle range on such
a hot, dry day, particularly given
the recent fires in the area.
I have raised my concerns with
the Defence Force and will con-
tinue to follow this matter up with
the Chief of the Defence Force and
will be watching the outcome of
the NZDF s investigation into this
matter closely, Ms Adams said.
Everyone in the region is pain-
fully aware of the current high
fire risk in the area following the
serious fires here earlier this
month, and all activity in the area
has to be carefully assessed for
fire risk before proceeding.
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