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Hut fire suspicious

After: It was destroyed in a suspicious fire on Tuesday night. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Property had been targeted by vandals

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
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Before: The tramping hut was used by two families for 35 years and could sleep up to 20 people.

A family’s beloved tramping hut near the Waingawa River was destroyed in a suspicious fire on Tuesday night.

But it won’t take away more than three decades of memories there, one of the owners said.

Wellington-based Ross Hampton’s family had been going to the Upper Waingawa Rd hut, which they owned with another Christchurch family, for close to 35 years.

It’s where their children spent many weekends, he said.

“It started off as a hut with one room and as kids have arrived over the years, we’ve extended it.

“It’s a beautiful spot by the river and the bush.

“It’s still a beautiful spot despite what’s happened.”

Firefighters were called to the property at around 7.30pm on Tuesday night but were unable to save the large hut which could sleep up to 20 people.

Masterton Fire Station officer Kevin Smith said reaching the property was difficult, as there is a bridge with a weight limit on it and there was no access for a truck.

Instead they sent in two off-road vehicles with portable pumps.

“We met one of the farmers at the end of the road who informed us it had pretty much burnt to the ground.

“When we arrived, we found [the hut] had collapsed.”

Several trees had also caught fire and crews remained on site for just under two hours to dampen the area.

Tuesday night’s housefire at a remote property near Upper Waingawa Rd is being treated as suspicious.

Smith said the fire was being treated as suspicious.

The property had been targeted by vandals last week, with several windows broken.

Hampton said they were extremely upset to learn that the property had burned down, especially as the property was in a remote location.

“You have to be pretty persistent to get out there. It’s not a drive-by event.”

He said the property held a lot of memories for the two families.

“My son said the fire can’t destroy the memories though.”

The hut was insured, and the two families were now going through the difficult process of deciding what to do with the land, Hampton said.

“We will still enjoy it but it’s going to change a bit. It will be up to the next generation now.”

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