Search on for cause of fire

Fire crews dampen down the smoking remains of the homestead on Sunday. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Fire crews dampen down the smoking remains of the homestead on Sunday. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.

Fire safety investigators and an electrical specialist will examine an ''area of interest'' in the ceiling of the historic Lower Shotover Rd house which was partly destroyed by fire on Sunday morning.

Fire safety management officer for North Otago Stu Ide said he conducted an initial examination of the site yesterday.

The Otago Daily Times yesterday reported property owner Phil George suspected the fire could have been caused by a mouse chewing through an electrical wire in the ceiling.

Mr Ide said the fire was ''possibly associated with the electricity''.

Property owners Phil and Jane George had been sleeping in a newer part of the building which was spared by the fire.

Their two friends, John Mills and Greg Clarke had been staying in the historic part of the home and were woken by the smoke alarms.

Mr Mills and Mr Clarke suffered smoke inhalation, for which they were treated at Lakes District Hospital.

Mr Ide said he was ''exceptionally delighted that those people were alerted by smoke alarms''.

''It just brings home the message that smoke alarms save lives.''

He said the key message was material possessions could be replaced but lives could not.