Electrical fault caused Queenstown fire

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 12:26 09/06/2014
Frankton senior station officer Grant Bewley
JOHN EDEN

CHARRED REMAINS: Frankton senior station officer Grant Bewley says the old homestead was well alight when fire crews arrived. However, the more modern part of the home was saved.

SlideshowQueenstown homestead

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The blaze that destroyed a 19th century homestead near Queenstown was probably electrical, a fire safety investigator says.

The property on Lower Shotover Rd, once a dairy on Cloverdale station, was built in the 1860s. The historic wooden-clad section of the property was destroyed by an intense fire, but the modern end was saved by firefighting crews.

Four families have owned the property since it was built in the mid-19th century.

The fire started about 6.30am yesterday, when guests staying with homeowners Phillip and Jane George were woken by smoke alarms. They quickly raised their hosts and got out.

Fire safety investigator Stu Ide conducted an initial assessment yesterday and was waiting to meet an insurance assessor later today.

He said the the Fire Service was delighted that smoke alarms were installed, working and proved their worth.

An area of interest in the homestead ceiling was identified and cabling was being inspected, he said.

''At this point we have to wait until such time as the assessor arrives. It appears to be an electrical event. The information that the owner has given us was an indication where the fire started.

"Initial investigations indicate that's the area of fire origin. Now we have to work out why that happened. We're looking at the ceiling.''

Phillip George told The Southland Times that guests John Mills and Greg Clarke woke to smoke filling the property.

''The home we loved and cherished, and it's a tragedy for Queenstown to see such a historic home go up in flames.''

The Georges moved into a Queenstown hotel yesterday, hours after watching their home burn. The property was insured for $5 million.

Last month a lightning strike sparked a major fire at another historic property near Queenstown; the category one listed Paradise Trust homestead close to Glenorchy.

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- The Southland Times

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