Fire and Emergency New Zealand are urging residents to avoid non-essential fires when Waimakariri moves into an open fire season on Sunday 3 May. Principal Rural Fire Officer, Bruce Janes, says even if a fire is permitted and under control, the smoke often generates a 111 call from the public, meaning firefighters need to leave their bubble to deal with an avoidable fire. “Now is the time to be more vigilant than ever to avoid an upturn in the spread of the virus.' Bruce says that across the Canterbury and Christchurch Metro Areas nearly 60 rubbish fires were attended during the Level 4 lockdown, compared to 20 across the same period last year. 'While we know essential industries like farmers will still need to light fires as part of their land management, we would appreciate if people would hold off lighting non-essential fires for a couple more weeks while we remain under COVID-19 Alert Level 3.'' The open fire season means permits will no longer be required for outdoor burning, however Environment Canterbury’s Air Regional Plan rules will still apply across the District. Properties under two hectares cannot burn outdoors, even if located in a rural area and properties greater than two hectares need to meet certain conditions. More information on rules for outdoor burning can be found on the Environment Canterbury website .