Move to recover Cecil Peak blaze costs

Ruth Stokes
Ruth Stokes
Six English people living in Queenstown will be asked to cover the cost of fighting a fire at Cecil Peak earlier this month.

Queenstown Lakes District Council operations general manager Ruth Stokes said Queenstown police had supplied a formal statement about the circumstances around the fire, which broke out on Cecil Peak on March 9.

''As a result, QLDC is taking steps to recover the cost of fighting the fire from those responsible.''

The group would be asked to cover the full cost of fighting the fire: $16,000 plus GST. Of that, $13,000 was for the helicopters used to assess the area at the time of the fire and dampen hot spots next day.

The remaining $3000 was the cost of fire crews. Council senior communications adviser Michele Poole said if the council was unable to recover the cost from the group, it could apply to the National Rural Fire Authority.

The council was unable to confirm if there was a deadline for payment, or if there was a payment scheme available.

It is understood Queenstown police will not be prosecuting the group.

The Otago Daily Times reported last week a group of six English people, all aged 28 or 29, contacted Queenstown police the day after the fire and visited the station that night to provide statements.

One, a 29-year-old man, said the group had borrowed a boat to travel to Cecil Peak where they intended to have a barbecue and a few drinks.

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

The man told police the group called 111, providing details of the fire and its location, before leaving the area.