Fire cause remains a mystery
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.
Cromwell’s 45 South orchard general manager Tim Jones with this season’s cherries ready for harvest.