Motuariki Island fire could cost $10k

Island burns in timelapse video

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 13:30 14/01/2014
motuariki
SUPPLIED/ George Empson

MOP UP: Motuariki Island in Lake Tekapo smoulders on Sunday morning, following a blaze the previous night.

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The people responsible for the fire which devastated Motuariki Island, in Lake Tekapo could face a bill of up to $10,000.

South Canterbury rural fire crews inspected the island this morning after being unable to safely access the island on Sunday and Monday.

Principal rural fire officer Rob Hands said although the damage was great ''about 60 per cent'' of the 100 year-old pine trees were safe. The picnic area had also been salvaged.

''The fire is still smouldering, but it's contained. We advise people to stay away from the island for at least the next few days as it is still dangerous,'' he said.

Mr Hands said it had spoken to three people who were based in Christchurch as rebuild workers about the incident.

''Our investigations are continuing, but we don't believe it was caused by a campfire,'' Mr Hands said.

The investigation would continue for at least a week, but Mr Hands said it would likely attempt to ''recover costs''.

He estimated the bill for the call-out and clean-up over the weekend was ''between $5000 to $10,000''.

Fire crews spent Saturday night attempting to put out the blaze, until it became too dangerous to continue and darkness fell.

South Canterbury Rural Fire issued a restricted fire notice for the Mackenzie District on December 14. This means it is an offence to light fires in the district unless you have a permit, but ''barbecues lit in properly constructed containers'' and ''cooking fires at camping sites'' are allowed, provided the area is cleared of all combustible material.

''This incident is a reminder people need to be extremely careful...we're lucky it wasn't worse. People need to exercise common sense, particularly as it is pretty dry out there,'' Mr Hands said.

''We think Motuariki Island will be a no-go for the next few days at least."

Fire on Lake Tekapo from BIG KID Film Productions on Vimeo.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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