Vegetation fires may be arson

22:20, Dec 11 2012
Rural firefighters dampen down hot spots

Police are on the hunt for a possible arsonist responsible for three vegetation fires in the Taylor Pass area in Blenheim.

Police and firefighters believe the fires on Monday were deliberately lit.

Marlborough chief rural fire officer Richard McNamara said the fires are believed to be arson. "The three fires were lit within an hour of each other in different locations, close enough for a person to travel from one site to another."

Helicopters are called in to help fight the fires

The fires match the pattern of three other suspicious fires in Marlborough on November 2. Those fires happened at Taylor Pass Rd, Batty's Rd and Renwick.

Officials said they did not yet know if those fires were arson.

"They do match the pattern we saw on Monday," Mr McNamara said. "That kind of behaviour is typical of an arsonist."


Emergency services take quick action

There were no obvious signs the fires on Monday started accidentally, he said.

"We're lucky in that the fires were lit in a very popular area so there is bound to be someone out there with some key information."

The Marlborough Rural Fire Authority is investigating the cause of the fires.

Stock are moved from a paddock near the site of the fire

The fire investigator was looking at whether an accelerant or a fire starter was used, which was standard procedure, Mr McNamara said.

Tasman District police communications manager Barbara Dunn asked that anyone with information get in touch with police.

"Police believe the fires were deliberately lit about 4pm and would like to speak with anyone who was in the area at the time who may have seen something," Ms Dunn said.

The Blenheim rural fire brigade, the Blenheim volunteer fire brigade, police and a helicopter helped put out the fires in Wither Rd, Taylor Pass Rd and at Wither Hills Farm Park, above Forest Park Dr.

The fires were all out within an hour with no significant damage.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area can call Blenheim police on 03 578 5279 or give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Marlborough Express