Horses at an equine business in rural Hastings were spooked by a fireworks display, which the family business owners were shocked to find was permitted by the Hastings District Council during the current total fire ban period. Shirin Wood said a major fireworks display could be seen from her Bridge Pa property on Friday about 9.20pm and went on for about 10 minutes.
Mrs Wood and her husband Kevin had to rush out to their paddocks to "calm terrified racehorses" trying to run through the fences to escape the "booming sound". They were also worried about the potential for a fire to start in their dry rural neighbourhood.
"We rural landowners have enough stress with these tinder-dry conditions and low water levels. The thought of fire is a very real nightmare for us all."
Hastings District Council's principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell confirmed the fireworks display had been permitted at a private function near Bridge Pa. Hawke's Bay Today understands it was a welcome-home event for a Hastings woman who had just returned from overseas.
"Yes, we are still in a total fire ban but we are permitting a range of special activities so it doesn't impact on people or their businesses or normal day-to-day activities. "People can apply for special permits such as a hangi or umu, cultural and recreational activities, which have to be managed safely and have mitigation points in place to prevent fires." Mr Mitchell said the council had initially declined the permit for the fireworks display at Bridge Pa but the applicants had re-applied adding extra measures to ensure its safety.
"Part of that is agreeing to tell neighbours about the fireworks display but in this case it appears some may have been missed out."
Mrs Wood said she was surprised to hear a fireworks display could be permitted during a total fire ban. "We've got valuable livestock. We expect fireworks at a certain time of the year and we can prepare our animals for that. This time of the year we do not expect fireworks, especially when we are in near-drought conditions."
Mr Mitchell said he understood Mrs Wood's concerns as some people, without permits, were still ignoring the total fire ban. "We've had a lot of small fires including one started by a power line fault at Crownthorpe on Friday."