'Devastating' fire destroys home at Tarras: All Blacks memorabilia lost

Fire rages at the Cluden Station homestead near Tarras on Tuesday.
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Fire rages at the Cluden Station homestead near Tarras on Tuesday.

A "devastating" fire destroyed much of the late Neil Purvis' All Blacks and Otago rugby memorabilia when the 120-year-old homestead on Cluden Station near Tarras burnt to the ground on Tuesday night.

Sole occupant of the home Lesley Purvis, Neil's widow, was in Wanaka at he time of the fire about 5.30pm.

Son Ben Purvis said "everything" was gone and all his mum had left were "the clothes on her back".

Items belonging to the former All Black Neil Purvis, who died in 2008, was destroyed in the homestead fire.
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX MEDIA

Items belonging to the former All Black Neil Purvis, who died in 2008, was destroyed in the homestead fire.

"She's pretty emotional. She just gutted," he said.

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He had no idea what caused the fire.

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Cluden Station homestead near Tarras on Tuesday.
supplied

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Cluden Station homestead near Tarras on Tuesday.

"I was up there just before 4.30pm and it was absolutely fine. Then at 5.30pm ... it was absolutely blazing."

"All that's left now is the original stone walls."

Ben Purvis had been to the house on Wednesday morning to see if he could salvage anything and had managed to get a couple of photos of his father's race horses and firefighters had managed to save a couple of rugby jerseys immediately following the fire.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm just shifting some sheep to get away from it for a while," he said.

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Ben Purvis and brother Sam had homes nearby where their mother could stay.

The home was insured, but he had no idea whether it would be rebuilt.

"She'll be a long process, the clean up," Ben Purvis said.

Southern Fire communications shift manager Andrew Norris said the two-storey home was "destroyed".

"The roof fell in [and] it was extensively damaged," Norris said.

"It's devastating for the family."

Firefighters from Tarras, Cromwell and Luggate were still on site about 8.30pm dampening down the area, he said.

East Otago Southland fire risk management officer and fire investigator Cathy Trevathan was at the site on Wednesday and would be there again on Thursday to complete the investigation.

There was no indication as yet as to how the fire started.

Cluden Station is a 12,000ha merino sheep farm.

 

 - Stuff

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