Fire rips through 50 years of family holiday memories

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2012
Graeme Moffat
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
RUINED: Te Anau station officer Graeme Moffat looks at the burnt holiday home.

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A Te Anau holiday home owned by a Southland family for almost 50 years was destroyed by fire early yesterday.

Te Anau man Ray Horrell said the fire was devastating.

His family had owned the Milford Rd property since building it in 1963, when you could throw a stone in any direction without hitting a neighbouring building, he said.

There was no-one in the house at the time of the fire.

"I guess against the sadness is nobody's hurt, nobody's living there, and the neighbours didn't get their house lit up," he said.

Occupants of a house next to the property were evacuated as emergency services worked to extinguish the fire.

The fire illustrated the situation in Te Anau, where the volunteer brigade was struggling to get numbers for daytime shifts, Mr Horrell said.

"[If the fire happened] at midday, the turnout from the now getting very depleted Te Anau brigade, the turnout numbers, would be nowhere near as good and nowhere near as quick."

The holiday home was not suitably insured to be rebuilt and it was too early to know what would happen, Mr Horrell said.

Te Anau fire station officer Graeme Moffat said the fire was burning fiercely when fire crews arrived at the Milford Rd house about 1.20am. A fire safety investigator looked over the property yesterday morning but a cause had not yet been determined.

However, the fire was believed to have started in the lounge.

Two bedrooms at the back of the house, as well as a bathroom, were damaged by smoke and water, while fire damage destroyed both the lounge and kitchen areas, Mr Moffat said.

"They certainly bore the brunt of the fire all right."

Strong winds buffeting much of the south overnight had died down at the time of the fire, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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