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A flaming mystery: Cause of fire ‘undetermined’

The cause of a fire that destroyed a Featherston rental property may never be known after investigations hit a dead end.

The 1940s home on Brandon St burned so hot on July 29, 2021 that even the guttering on the neighbouring house melted.

Every room in the home was destroyed and the blaze was so bright it could be seen across the town.

A car parked in the driveway also sustained heat damage.

However, more than a year on from the “suspicious” fire, Fire and Emergency New Zealand [Fenz] specialist fire investigator Peter Thompson said the classification of the incident had been recorded as undetermined.

“Based on the information available at the time of the investigation, the exact cause could not be determined,” he said.

“However, there was no apparent accidental or natural cause of fire and the deliberate ignition of an introduced fuel package could not be ruled out.”

Two people were in the house when it caught fire, immediately leaving through the front door when smoke could be smelled from the back.

The first 111 call was received at 6.46pm, with four fire trucks and a police patrol unit responding to the scene.

Thompson said there was no evidence of accelerant within the fire’s area of origin.

Although the damage was so extensive that an exact point of origin could not be established, burn patterns indicated the fire originated around the area in front of the sink cupboards.

“The weather was overcast with drizzle and slight northerly wind and there was no evidence of a natural cause.

“The wood burner, flue and surrounding timbers showed no evidence of being the ignition source.

“Inspection of the gas-operated appliances, the refrigerator, freezer and the microwave showed no evidence of being the ignition source.

“The cause of this fire was unable to be determined.”

A police spokesperson said they encouraged people with new information to make contact.

“Police have exhausted all lines of enquiry into this investigation and have put a halt on the file.

“However, if anyone has any information on this case, please reach out to police.”

Anyone with information was asked to call police on 105 and quote file number 210802/2117. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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