Landowners facing heat over Closeburn fires

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An investigation into two Closeburn vegetation blazes last month could result in legal prosecution of the land owners.

A report by Department of Conservation fire experts and a claim for costs for fighting the fires, which were caused by a tree on private property falling on power lines, will be sent to the National Rural Fire Authority within the next ten days.

Rural fire officer Jamie Cowan says the NRFA consider complicated or large claim cases and will decide whether costs of fighting the flames may be recovered from land owners.

“[NRFA] will have their lawyers and such look at it, and they will determine whether or not there is a party responsible and if they find a party responsible then they can take whatever methods they deem necessary to recover those costs,” he says.

Fighting the fires – which required up to seven helicopters dropping water from monsoon buckets – cost between $40,000 and $50,000, Cowan says.

Cowan wouldn’t comment whether the land was owned by Kiwi film-maker Sir Peter Jackson.