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Towering inferno

Firefighters suggested the fire had been alight for a few hours before anyone noticed it. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Second watchtower destroyed
Community disappointed

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Before blaze.

The second watchtower to burn down at Henley Lake in less than two years has left locals “gutted”, including Masterton fire station officer Mike Cornford.

Attending the blaze at about 4am on Saturday morning, he said the fire did not take long to put out once they were there.

One fire truck attended with a water tanker, but the state the tower was in when fire and emergency staff arrived suggested it had been burning for about two hours before anyone noticed it, Cornford said.

“There was not a lot left – it was pretty well burnt out,” he said.

He said the fire was being treated as suspicious.

“Unfortunately, that is the second one that I’ve been to that’s been burned to the ground now,” Cornford said.

In December 2018, Masterton fire services were called to a similar incident where another “iconic watchtower” at Henley Lake was burned down in the early hours of a Saturday morning near the back of the Henley Men’s Shed.


That watchtower had been rebuilt in 2006 after being burned down in 2004.

It was originally built in 1998.

Cornford said the council had not yet rebuilt that watchtower, and if the community lost the use of it at the lake, it would be a shame.

“Kids can climb up it, it’s two storeys high and it’s great for people out there walking – it’s just a great community facility really.

“I’m gutted because I just had my grandson and granddaughter up there three weeks ago.

“It’s just a lovely community facility that’s been destroyed by vandalism.”

Masterton councillor Gary Caffell said he would be “pushing hard for it to be rebuilt”.

“To me, it was a landmark of Henley Lake and just such a unique part of it.”

“That particular tower, with grandkids and kids, they just love scooting up and down there.”

Masterton District Council community facilities and activities manager Andrea Jackson said community groups and staff worked incredibly hard to create enjoyable spaces for the community.

“While the cause has not been determined, I’m sure members of the community will be just as disappointed as staff.

“I urge anyone who may have seen anything to contact police with the information.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the police on 105, the non-emergency number.

Alternatively, people can contact Crimestoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.

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