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Much needed rain for drought-hit areas could cause flash floods

With the entire North Island facing either near or total fire bans due to drought conditions, a fire scientist says prolonged drought could case flooding if heavy rain hits. 

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Fire scientist Grant Pearce and Tim Mitchell from FENZ have some tips about how to avoid accidentally starting fires. Source: Breakfast

Prolonged periods of drought accompanied by heavy rain can lead to further problems of unstable soil. 

"That can cause problems in terms of erosion, soil and other material washing off slopes for example, down in to rivers causing sedimentation and other issues and contributing to worse flooding," wildfire expert Grant Pearce told TVNZ 1's Breakfast. 

Total fire ban begins today across all of North Island

Something similar happened in Australia earlier this month as heavy rain caused flash flooding in parts of New South Wales.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Rural Fire Manager, Tim Mitchell told Breakfast the dry conditions New Zealand is experiencing only require a small spark to ignite and become a raging bush fire. 

"I think at the moment the real message we want to get across is this season is quite different to what we have had previously, things are a lot drier and it's going to take a lot less to actually cause a wildfire," says Mr Mitchell. 

He says it is very unusual too see such large areas of the North Island in a prohibited fire season and without any significant rain forecast, it seems like "we are going to be stuck with this situation for sometime yet".