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Cow poop can cause grass fires

HAWKE'S Bay Federated Farmers President Jim Galloway gave out some unusual fire-risk reduction advice recently when he pointed to risks associated with drying cow pats on the exhausts of quads and other farm vehicles.

“It's tinder dry out there in our area and we urge all rural folk to take precautions to try to ensure work activities don't spark a vegetation blaze.”

Jim said one risk that may be overlooked was clumps of cowpat or similar material sticking to the exhausts of quad bikes and other vehicles.

“It sticks on there, dries, heats and starts smouldering.

If that falls into dry grass it can set off flames.”

Hawke's Bay has already experienced rural fires, including at Tikokino, Clarkson's Hill and off Moteo Pa Road.

“It's thought two of the fires were caused by the blades of a mower striking stone, wire or something else hard and causing a spark.

In the current conditions, farmers and others should think very carefully about whether it's safe to do mowing or topping or any other activity that could cause sparks,” Jim said.

Another risk to look out for is that power lines are sagging in the heat and may touch tree tops underneath.

The wind causing powerline “clapping” (touching) was another factor, he said.

“We're just asking farmers and others in the community to be vigilant and to take a precautionary approach.”

“It's sound practice to carry a fire extinguisher on farm vehicles. That could end up being the difference between a patch of smoldering grass and a major event.

“If you've got a vehicle that carries spray equipment and the tank is not is use, it's a good idea to fill it with water and park it in an accessible place so you've got a means of putting out small fires.”