Gut­ted, but show goes on

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MARY-JO TO­HILL

South Otago A&P So­ci­ety is gut­ted in more ways than one, first by a fire that de­stroyed a sta­ble block at the Bal­clutha show­grounds, and sec­ond be­cause it’s hap­pened in the 10 day lead-up to the 151st show.

South Otago A&P So­ci­ety past­pres­i­dent Graeme Mof­fat watched with semi-dis­be­lief as the burntout build­ing, razed in a sus­pi­cious fire overnight Sun­day, was de­mol­ished on Mon­day af­ter­noon.

‘‘From an or­gan­i­sa­tion point of view, we pro­vide fan­tas­tic fa­cil­i­ties for the pub­lic, and some peo­ple think they’ve got the right to de­stroy it.’’

The so­ci­ety owns all the build­ings and struc­tures on the show­ground, home of the an­nual South Otago A&P Show, which is on next Satur­day, Novem­ber 25.

As a safety pre­cau­tion, the sta­bles were de­mol­ished.

‘‘It’s a health and safety is­sue. We re­ally don’t want loose pieces of cor­ru­gated iron fly­ing around like kites,’’ Mof­fat said.

The area had been fully in­spected by po­lice and sam­ples taken from the charred struc­tures and soil to de­ter­mine whether an ac­cel­er­ant had been used to start the fire. It would be fenced off from the pub­lic.

It was not the first time the block had been van­dalised or tam­pered with, Mof­fat said.

‘‘My first re­ac­tion was an­noy­ance, be­cause we were so close to mak­ing some ma­jor im­prove­ments to the sta­bles. We were go­ing to in­stall gates this week - they were all ready to go, along with the hinges to pro­vide bet­ter se­cu­rity.’’

How­ever, the show would go on, and the com­mit­tee would find other places to sta­ble horses and ponies, he said.

A new build­ing ad­ja­cent to the old sta­bles, which were moved when the show­ground was re­de­vel­oped in the early 2000s, was un­dam­aged in the blaze.

The old sta­ble block was gen­er­ally used for an­i­mals that needed to be kept sep­a­rate from other horses, such as stal­lions. If any were en­tered this year, the com­mit­tee could still ac­com­mo­date them else­where.

Mof­fat could not com­ment on what it would cost to re­place the sta­bles, but said as far as he was aware, in­sur­ance should cover the loss.

Peo­ple with in­for­ma­tion can con­tact Con­sta­ble Hamish Fraser 021 190 5934, Bal­clutha po­lice (03) 4180203, or Crime Stop­pers 0800 555 111.

MARY-JO TO­HILL/STUFF

South Otago A&P So­ci­ety past-pres­i­dent Graeme Mof­fat, right, with mem­ber Phillip Kempthorne at the de­mo­li­tion of the so­ci­ety’s old sta­ble block at the Bal­clutha show­grounds.

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