Power board fault ignited house fire

The ignition source of the fire which gutted an Ophir house late on Tuesday night this week has been determined as an electrical fault.

Southern region fire investigator Barry Gibson said the wiring fault had occurred in the back of a power board and the fire had spread through the roof into the house.

He said the fire could have been slow-burning for an hour or two in its early stages but when it "broke out" it would have taken hold quickly.

"It [the house] had soft board ceilings and an aluminium roof which meant that it collapsed very quickly, which gave plenty of oxygen for the fire to take off."

He said the concerning aspect was that a fire of that type could happen to any house at any time.

"We have a lot of electrical fires and it is of concern that people are not aware that electrical systems in their homes need to be checked from time to time [about every five years].

"It's not reflection on these people [house owner Sam Leask and tenant Ken Lake] but this is a good wake-up call for people."

Mr Leask, also the area chief fire officer, grew up in the house and it was still on his family farm.

Mr Lake lost all his possessions except the clothes he was wearing, but has family in the area with whom he is staying.

Both the house and Mr Lake's possessions were insured.

-sarah.marquet@odt.co.nz