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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.

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