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Fire chiefs working to stop another 'accidental' Pigeon Valley fire

It's one big lesson - 2300 hectares of vegetation in flames, sparked by a disc plough being used in a rocky paddock.

The use of farm machinery has been confirmed as the accidental cause of the huge Pigeon Valley wildfire near Nelson in February.

And now Fire and Emergency is looking to broaden its warnings about this type of risk.

Nelson Tasman principal rural fire officer Ian Reade says the fire started with a metal on stone or metal on metal strike.

“We've got to learn from that and do everything we can to stop that from happening again,” he says.

The weather conditions in the area during the six weeks prior to the fire were characterised by little or no rainfall, high temperatures, and often windy conditions.

Restrictions were in place at the time, but Motueka Valley farmer Gavin O'Donnell believes there needs to be “better clarity around the message that is being delivered”.

“In total fire bans, the messaging is ‘there's a total fire ban’. It doesn't say that you shouldn’t operate agricultural machinery”.

Mr Reade says Fire and Emergency has been “very successful over the last 15 years working with forestry industry in this area and we've got a set of guidelines that they live by over the summer months”.

FENZ wants to broaden its message and work with rural and industry groups to create similar guidelines and provide them with up-to-date information on conditions.

“How dry is the grass? What's the relative humidity like? What's the temperature like and what's the wind like?”

They plan on providing daily reports and advice so outdoor activities can be safely planned or dropped for the day.

Mr O’Donnell, who is also a local firefighter, told 1 NEWS he made the “conscious decision that I didn't want to be driving around on the farm, doing work with vehicles or machinery, during those high-risk hours”.

Especially when daylight can make sparks hard to see.

“Often around fence lines you'll have dry vegetation where a fire could easily be started.”

It's likely the plan will be rolled out to other parts of the country too.

A full review into the February fires is due out later this year.

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Now Fire and Emergency is looking to broaden its warnings about fire risks. Source: 1 NEWS