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Naseby community answers the call

The Central App

Alexia Anderson

01 April 2024, 4:45 PM

Naseby community answers the callFenz advisor risk reduction Otago district Mark Mawhinney talks to the audience at last week's fire risk meeting. PHOTO: The Central App

One hundred people flocked to the Naseby Town Hall on Saturday, keen to learn how they could protect their properties from wildfire.

Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) hosted the meeting on Saturday, showcasing how people could prepare their home and landscaping to reduce the risk.

Fenz advisor risk reduction Otago district Mark Mawhinney used the meeting to talk about defensible space, a term used to describe the careful selection, location and maintenance of vegetation and other combustible materials on the property.

The presentation also featured a series of short videos, which showcased the importance of being prepared, particularly when there was risk of embers, which could travel hundreds of metres.

“Our focus is making communities safer and, ideally, reducing the likelihood of a fire starting.”

He said reducing the risk was a collaborative effort.

“It’s about giving us all a chance to get through if an event happens.”

He said this year Central had been the driest part of Otago, something that only exacerbates the risk.

In the past 10 years there have been six structure fires in Naseby, eight vegetation fires and nine other types of fires.

Last week’s meeting came following the 2020 wildfire in the remote town of Ōhau, which destroyed dozens of buildings and scorched about 5000 hectares of land.

Naseby Vision chair Adair Craik was impressed by the turnout to the meeting, which was attended by home-owners and holiday-makers, all keen to learn how they could protect the small remote town.

“I thought it was the most important meeting and best education you could have.”

The meeting also allowed discussion around a community response group, which would provide a key link between the community and emergency services, and create a wider emergency management system.