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An electrical fault in a bathroom light fitting is believed to have caused a fire which destroyed a farmhouse near Stoneburn at the weekend.
Fire appliances from Palmerston and Waikouaiti attended the blaze about 10pm on Friday, but because of the remoteness of the property on Taieri Peak Rd, 25 minutes inland from Palmerston, the house could not be saved.
Palmerston deputy chief fire officer Kelvin Clearwater said the owners had been out and returned to the smell of smoke and an orange glow in the windows.
The 35-year-old summerhill stone house was well involved by the time fire appliances arrived but the flames were brought under control quickly.
"If the house was in Palmerston, maybe we could have saved it.
But because it was in the middle of nowhere, the locality made it impossible to save."
Mr Clearwater said Palmerston firefighters returned to the scene on Saturday morning for a short time after strong winds in the area caused the flames to flare up again.