Flames are visible from a scrub fire at Cecil Peak last
night. Photo by Craig Roberston
Police say two men seen speeding away in a boat from a
fire at Cecil Peak have denied any involvement.
The scrub fire caught hold on the lower slopes of Cecil Peak,
directly across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown Bay, at 8pm
It is now under control and rural fire crews and helicopters
from Queenstown's council and the Department of Conservation
are onsite damping down hotspots.
Police spoke to two men who disembarked from a boat in
Queenstown Bay last night.
"The boat was seen speeding away from the area," senior
constable Chris Blackford said.
"They were spoken to but denied any involvement. Inquiries
A total prohibited fire season is in force across the
Queenstown Lakes District.
Once the cause of the fire is established, if those
responsible can be identified, they will be liable for the
costs of fighting the fire, the council's operations general
manager Ruth Stokes said.
The large fire sent smoke billowing across the bay.
Before dark last night a helicopter was used to inspect the
blaze and the surrounding area to check that no-one was in
Ms Stokes said no fire crews were sent to the site last night
because the risk to life from fighting fires in the dark
outweighed the need to bring the fire under control, given
its remote location and the terrain.
There is no suggestion that the landowner had been
responsible for the blaze, and everything else was
speculation at this point, she said.
An aerial inspection at first light assessed the fire as
being well under control.
DoC's incident controller Mark Mawhinney says the prevailing
calm and humid conditions last night and forecast for this
morning had minimised risk that the fire would have spread
The peak isn't home to any houses or residents but is the
site of a newly unveiled high-altitude golf tee officially
opened by Prime Minister John Key last week.
- Paul Taylor of Mountain Scene