Electrical fault blamed for homestead blaze

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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A fire safety investigator has confirmed the blaze that destroyed a 19th-century homestead near Queenstown was caused by an electrical fault.

The property in Lower Shotover Rd was built in the 1860s. The historic wood-clad section of the property was destroyed by an intense fire on Sunday but the modern end was saved by firefighting crews.

Fire safety investigator Stu Ide conducted an initial assessment on Sunday and further inspections were conducted this week by an electrical engineer and an insurance assessor.

Cabling was sent away by the assessor for analysis to determine whether the cause was an electrical fault or, potentially, rodents chewing through wiring.

"We believe it occurred in the ceiling. We're not sure if something has failed or if we've had a rodent chew through. It was a very hot fire. It started in the old part where the timber would have been well dried out."

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

An insurance assessment needs to be completed before any developments regarding demolition or rebuilding.

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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