Queenstown firefighters are going door-to-door in a suburb bordering the red-zone to warn about fires and fireworks.
Concerned fireys will deliver more than 250 flyers to households in Fernhill over the next few days.
The neighbourhood is surrounded by pine forest and scrub and with conditions tinder-dry, any spark could set off an uncontrollable and potentially deadly fire.
Fire risk management officer Stu Ide says: “There’s a severe fire risk at the moment and we can’t see it getting any better.
“It’s critical people don’t light [outdoor] fires or set off fireworks – it’s crazy to let them off.
“And if they see fire or smoke, phone us straight away.
“It’s much easier to deal with a small fire than a big one.”
The red-zone itself covers a vast area from beyond Bob’s Cove on the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road, stretching towards Moke Lake, across the lower slopes of Ben Lomond, and on to Arthurs Point.
There is a total ban on outdoor fires and fireworks in the red-zone at present – and yesterday that ban was extended to cover the whole of Queenstown.
However, it’s often ignored on New Year’s Eve and Ide is urging caution.
“It’s the backyard fireworks that cause fires, especially when people up in Fernhill and up towards Twelve Mile are setting them off.”
Outdoor fires include camp fires, bonfires, rubbish fires and braziers. Enclosed gas BBQs and permanent outdoor fireplaces are allowed. New Year’s Eve’s professional fireworks display in Queenstown Bay is covered by a special permit. Ide says: “It’s over water and they employ spotters.”
Meanwhile, Queenstown’s council and cops are preparing for the influx of some 100,000 visitors over the holiday period, with more patrols, traffic management and free daytime parking at Warren Park, near Wakatipu High School.
The liquor ban is in place from December 27 to January 6, with $250 fines.