Fire destroys popular hut

The Department of Conservation's Pine Valley hut in the Mt Richmond Forest Park has burnt to the ground.

Its smouldering remains were found by a Marlborough family, intending to stay at the hut, last Friday - Friday the 13th.

The family notified DOC which contacted police and fire investigators.

DOC south Marlborough senior ranger Matt Flynn said the cause of fire was still under investigation.

The police and fire investigators had looked at whether the hut had people in it when it burned down but that did not seem to be the case, Flynn said.

"We don't yet know how the fire started or when, but it's a good time to remind hut users to only use candle holders provided, and only ever clean out fire ashes when embers are cold. Put the ashes in the steel bucket provided and store the bucket outside the hut."

Anyone in the area last week with information that might help DOC determine the cause of the fire is asked to contact Flynn on 03 572 9100.

The six bunk hut in Mt Richmond Forest Park, originally built in 1966, was only a 20 minute walk from Mill Flat campground and was a popular "first-time" hut experience.

Families and scout groups from around Marlborough took children to Pine Valley to experience their first overnight hut stay, Flynn said.

"It will be very disappointing for a lot of Marlborough families. Pine Valley Hut was just far enough that kids felt like they were on a real adventure, but close enough that parents could carry most of the gear and extra supplies needed to make a first hut stay a great memory, like pillows, stuffed animals and dessert," he said.

The Marlborough Express