Old homestead burns down
A family of holidaymakers watched the historic Golden Bay holiday home they had been renting burn to the ground.
The large homestead in Washbourn Rd, Onekaka, was "fully ablaze" when firefighters from the Collingwood Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived soon after 10pm on Saturday, said chief fire officer Graeme Miller.
One of the children at the house ran inside from a barbecue outside and returned saying the house was on fire.
The holiday home was isolated and surrounded by lawns, with no risk to other structures, said Miller.
About 25 firefighters helped control the blaze for about four hours, with appliances and tankers coming from Takaka and Upper Takaka as well as Collingwood.
The house was the original homestead for the Washbourn family and was originally built about 1900, said Dr Vic Eastman today.
The house had belonged to his wife's mother and over the last five years, the house had been resited, repiled and doubled in size to about 150 square metres.
"I parked a hundred metres from the fire and when I stepped out of my truck, I was blasted by the heat", said Dr Eastman, who arrived at the scene just after the first firefighters.
He said the house was already a "a giant ball of flames".
"It's a heart-rending loss for those of us who put a lot of time into it", he said.
Fire investigator Rob Dalton said that because the house was "fully involved" when firefighters arrived, there was no chance of saving it.
"It was all on the ground by the time we left," said Miller.
Dalton said his investigation into what caused the fire was continuing and he could not single out any cause. The fire started in one of the bedrooms.
He said the family renting the house was from Upper Moutere.