Fire is out, but whodunnit?
Firefighters are confident the Rat Point fire that devastated the surrounding landscape near Queenstown is out.
Otago Rural Fire Authority deputy principal rural fire officer Jamie Cowan said no hotspots had been found in the past four days, but authorities were still monitoring the area.
Cowan said police had been unable to locate two people wanted in connection with a campfire that started the blaze.
Queenstown police established last week that the owners of a white van seen where the fire started did not cause the blaze.
The Fire Service confirmed last Thursday a campfire on the beach caused the fire, which covered 150 hectares at its height.
Investigators were seeking an older model, dark-coloured station wagon occupied by a male and female in their 20s.
The couple had been down by the lake and were seen coming back up, getting into their car and driving away, according to a statement on Friday. They left the scene before the fire started.
People were asked to call the Fire Service on 0800 673 473 or police with information.
Cowan said cooler weather had been instrumental in preventing flare-ups.
‘‘We’ve had rain, we’ve had bloody snow. It’s been very, very helpful.’’
Glenorchy residents were in the dark for two nights after the huge fire knocked out power lines, but electricity was restored on Thursday.
About 1km of power poles and lines between Queenstown and Glenorchy were burned.
Off-duty police officer Craig Bryant drove through the fire area, which at one point burned on both sides of the Glenorchy road, and said it was ‘‘pretty eerie’’.
Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy chief fire officer Andrew Bary said the fire was intense, but fortunately it was southwest facing native bush, so was not as hot and did not spread as fast as other fires might.
The blaze began about 11.30pm on Tuesday, forcing authorities to close the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy for a time.
There were fears it could be pushed towards Queenstown by forecasted 90 kilometre-an-hour winds.
At its peak 50 firefighters and seven helicopters battled the flames and thick smoke.