Phoenix-like positive signs after Ohau fire

Patches of grass scorched in the Lake Ohau fire three weeks ago (above) and rejuvenating, in the...
Patches of grass scorched in the Lake Ohau fire three weeks ago (above) and rejuvenating, in the below image, on Saturday. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED BY GARY KIRCHER
Small amounts of rejuvenating land are hints of renewal on the other side of the Lake Ohau village fire.

The fire burnt 5040ha of land, destroying 48 buildings three weeks ago, and when Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher visited the site on Saturday he was heartened by signs of new life.

"It was quite noticeable that in the scorched earth, there was already green grass growing and that rejuvenation was already evident after just barely three weeks later.

"Some signs of the fire will take quite some time to disappear ... but there’s new greenery sprouting," the mayor said.

The mood in the community was relatively positive, but "particularly for those who were there on the night ... it’s potentially something that could take years to deal with properly.

"The faster we can get things back to normal, the sooner people will be able to deal with that and put it into context, by balancing it with a whole lot of positive stuff that’s going to be coming out of the ruins."

Clearance of destroyed homes would be completed by November 9, and those still "intact" would be connected to electricity by the end of this week.

Many residents whose homes were razed were staying in unused holiday homes in the village, and insurance claims were well under way, he said.

The council would continue to support residents and there was $215,000 in the mayoral emergency relief fund.

"[It’s] making sure that we can look after people as well as possible. It’s certainly helping. The generosity of the public has been really quite amazing."

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

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