FIRE AT HOBBITON
Props that fill the Hobbit holes of the Hobbiton film set were destroyed by fire which tore through the implement shed and staff quarters at the Matamata site.
Explosions could be heard coming from the seven-bay maintenance shed located in Dusty Haven, about 200 metres from the film set, as flames flashed over LPG bottles and burst tyres. There were initial fears the fire - spotted by a neighbouring farmer who saw a glow on the hillside as he went to milk the cows at 4.50am on Monday - may have been from the film set itself.
But it was clear as busloads of tourists poured into the popular destination set in the sprawling Alexander farm on Buckland Road on Monday that it was open for business as usual. "It won’t affect the tourists, as such, but it’s a place for the staff and will affect the maintenance and build process they are going on with," owner Russell Alexander said.
"And obviously all the props we use will have to be rebuilt." Alexander was in bed asleep when he woke to find missed calls from the neighbour and fire service.
"I think [the farmer] saw the flames and then he heard the explosion."
By the time Alexander arrived, the two fire crews from Matamata and Cambridge had managed to get the blaze that engulfed the 25-metre-long shed under control.