Firefighters repeat appeal not to burn off old grass

Firefighters of the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) are repeating appeals to the public not to risk their lives and property by buring off last year's dry grass – though the appeals seem to do little to prevent so-called 'kūla' fires appearing with remarkable regularity in the same places every year.

So far this year more than 350 grass fires have already been recorded and this weekend is certain to add to that total with dry weather expected across the country. The fact that so many fire crews are called out to remote districts to tackle intentionally-set fires means that if house fires occur in other places, resources are stretched and response times will be longer, the VUGD points out, saying "Don't burn grass and you will possibly save someone's life!" 

That also includes animal life as well as human life, the VUGD says in its most recent social media post.

In the last 24-hour period, firefighters were called to 24 grass fires in addition to 6 forest fires and 58 other fires, showing that more than one in four fires they attended had been set on purpose.

Setting fire to fields on purpose is illegal and punishable by a fine. Official advice remains that old grass should be cut and preferably composted rather than immolated. Nevertheless, many old-time landowners insist it is the proper way to prepare for the summer season – at least until their barns and tractors go up in smoke. 

Despite the legal penalties, widespread campaigns, and the obvious hazard to humans and wildlife from setting dry grass on fire, hundreds of grass fires blaze across the country each year.

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