Queenstowners are being asked to avoid doing anything that generates sparks today, as the fire risk spikes.

That includes grinders, ride-on lawn mowers and any other tools or implements with blades that can strike against stones and cause a spark.

Fire and Emergency NZ Otago district manager Phil Marsh says ‘‘very hot, dry and windy conditions’’ are forecast, meaning any fire that does start will spread at pace and be more difficult for fireys to extinguish.

Subsequently, he is asking contractors, farmers, tradies and anyone else using machinery to play it safe.

He also wants anyone who has lit an outdoor fire over the past three weeks to check it is completely out.

‘‘All the indications are that we are in for a long, dry summer and the risk of wildfire is already high,’’ Marsh says.

Grass that seems green on top is already drying off underneath, and the ground itself is dry in most places.

‘‘Anyone who has turned a spade in their own garden will know exactly how dry the soil is, even after a shower of rain.

‘‘These are the conditions where a fire can start easily and be very hard to put out.’’

A prohibited fire season’s already been declared for the Queenstown-Lakes, meaning outdoor fires are banned.

Up-to-date advice on the fire risk is always available at checkitsalright.nz, he says.

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