Moutere fire not suspicious - investigation

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:32 31/01/2013

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Last week’s fire at the Moutere Hills Community Centre was caused by an electrical fault in wiring in a ceiling.

The early morning fire  gutted the interior of the popular centre’s  kitchen  and  function room. The centre’s management committee plans to  develop an  interim outdoor social and food area to cater for demand until the  building is  repaired.

New Zealand Fire Service investigator Ross Bailey said last Tuesday’s  fire started in the  centre’s function room. ‘‘It was  an dhaccident,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s difficult to say exactly what happened because of the extent of the damage but it is not dhsuspicious.’’
Mr Bailey  came to his finding after  an investigation in conjunction with insurers and an electrical engineer.

He said the  centre’s smoke alarms did not activate because  the smoke was above them in the roof cavity.
The room did not contain heat detectors  because the  roof cavity was too small, he said.

The  manual alarm was actidhvated by a centre staff member who  discovered the fire. 

The eight-year-old centre is dhowned by Tasman District Council and managed by the community.

The centre’s  chairman, Philip Leith, said the management committee had not  yet seen the  fire investigation report.

Power and water  services had been  returned to part of the building and  the committee  was confident it could  continue to operate and provide  outdoor services on-site and indoor activities at other venues until the centre was rebuilt.

‘‘We are not directly involved in the  insurance and rebuild talks at this stage, but I understand  a report will  go to a council meeting in a couple of weeks and  there will be a  full briefing then.’’

He said the important thing was that  no-one was injured. ‘‘And the structural integrity of the building  does not  appear to have been too badly compromised"

Mr Leith said the committee planned to use  a kitchen in the adjoining  former football clubrooms and create a covered outdoor area which could be used for food and beverage service  to meet the needs of the winter  sports clubs.

‘‘We’ll probably need  some volunteer help, materials and working bees to get it  complete – it’ll be the first project we  can get ourntsGout nte teeth into.’’

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Meanwhile,  this  Sunday’s Sarau Festival at the site will go ahead as planned.

Mr Leith encouraged people to attend to, ‘‘support the Moutere, get  a glimpse at what we have lost and have a good time’’.

- The Nelson Mail

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