Port Hills fire ‘deliberately lit’

Helicopters were brought in to help battle the Port Hills fire. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER

Police believe at least one of the fires which caused devastation in the Port Hills in February was deliberately lit.

The fire burned more than 1600 hectares of land and destroyed nine homes.

See more:

Battling it cost helicopter pilot Steve Askin his life, as he died in a crash while helping to fight the fire.

The blaze began as two seperate fires on February 13, one in Early Valley and one on Marley’s Hill.

Police said today they have confirmed the Marley’s Hill fire was suspicious.

They are now appealing for anyone with information about it to come forward.

Detective Inspector Greg Murton the criminal investigation into the fires was very complex.

“Our investigation is well advanced, evidence gathering and inquires at the scene have been completed and a range of witnesses have been spoken to,” he said.

He said someone in the community would have information which would be crucial to the investigation.

“These fires had a devastating impact on the Port Hills and wider community and we encourage anyone who has information that may help find the person responsible to come forward.”

He said the report and its findings could not be released or discussed, as it was a criminal investigation.

“We understand this may be frustrating for residents who are anxious to know more information about the fires,” he said.

A second fire investigation report is being carried out by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand director Leigh Deuchars said it was expected to take at least a couple of months.

“These investigations are taking some time to complete given the scale, damage and amount of information, some being very technical, that needs to be considered. We are carrying out a thorough investigation, in as timely a manner as possible,” she said.

Anyone with new information is asked to called Christchurch Police on 03 363 7400. Information can also be shared anonymously via CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

Comment