Fire cause re­mains a mys­tery

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

DEB­BIE JAMIESON

A fire in­ves­ti­ga­tor has been un­able to determine the cause of a fire that de­stroyed the historic Mt Au­rum Home­stead at Skip­pers, near Queenstown, as wit­nesses’ ac­counts don’t match up with the ev­i­dence.

The cat­e­gory 2 listed her­itage build­ing was de­stroyed shortly af­ter mid­night on New Year’s Day, be­fore fire­fight­ers could reach the re­mote site.

In his fi­nal re­port, in­ves­ti­ga­tor Stu­art Ide said the fire was spot­ted by campers about 12.20am.

Ide said he could not determine the ex­act cause of the fire as the state­ments of the two peo­ple last known to be in the build­ing did not match other ev­i­dence.

The pair told Ide they had lit a fire in a fire­place in­side the build­ing and put it out with wa­ter bot­tles.

How­ever, Ide said the chim­ney was capped off. It would be im­pos­si­ble to have a fire in the fire­place with­out it en­ter­ing the room.

‘‘This would have been seen and could have been ex­tin­guished by the oc­cu­pants at an early stage of the fire be­fore any dam­age was done,’’ he said.

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Cromwell’s 45 South or­chard gen­eral man­ager Tim Jones with this sea­son’s cher­ries ready for harvest.

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