Cecil Peak fire culprits yet to pay


A group of Brits is still being chased for thousands of dollars – more than a year after a .

The fire started on March 9 last year, during a , and ultimately burnt about 10ha on the lower slopes. 

It was thought to have started by an  used by a group of six English people – who were later asked to to Queenstown’s council for the cost of fighting the fire.

That includes $13,000 for helicopters used to assess the fire and dampen hotspots the following day. 

Council communications manager Michele Poole told the Otago Daily Times the council has been paid more than than $16,000 in September – by the National Rural Fire Authority.

National Rural Fire Authority rural fire manager Russell Barclay, of Dunedin, says the authority is pursuing cost recovery from those responsible for the fire but it’s subject to a “judicial process”.

He did not know how long that might take. 

The group of Brits – four men and two women in their late 20s who were living and working in Queenstown – borrowed a boat to travel to Cecil Peak, where they intended to have a barbecue and a few drinks last March.

However, shortly after they arrived an unattended gas cooker appears to have started the fire, which quickly got out of control.

One of the group told police at the time the group called 111, provided details of the fire and its location, before leaving the area.

Rural fire crews and helicopters from the local council and Department of Conservation were used to dampen down hotspots the next day because the fire was deemed too dangerous to fight when it broke out around 8pm.

The group contacted police the day after the fire and visited the Queenstown station that night to provide statements.

The manager of Cecil Peak’s farm station, Philip Rive, says it if the fire had happened at the height of summer.

Otago Daily Times