Village will rise from ashes: builder

Omarama builder Bill Adams is determined to work towards rebuilding Lake Ohau. PHOTOS: STEPHEN...
Omarama builder Bill Adams is determined to work towards rebuilding Lake Ohau. PHOTOS: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Amid the devastation caused by the Lake Ohau fire, one builder is back at work and determined to see the village return to what it was.

Bill Adams, of Omarama, has built 11 houses at Lake Ohau since 1996, five of which were destroyed in the blaze.

"In one of them the only thing left was the log burner and the cast iron bath."

Last week, he was able to return to the village after eight weeks, to the site of a new home he had only just started building in the village.

The house was relatively unscathed by the blaze.

"It was just a block of concrete. We’re lucky Covid-19 held it up a bit and we didn’t get the frame up yet."

Cleared building sites show where houses were destroyed in the Lake Ohau village fire.
Cleared building sites show where houses were destroyed in the Lake Ohau village fire.

The change in the village was shocking, Mr Adams said.

"I was absolutely gutted to see all those houses gutted ... it was all tree stumps and empty sites. They’ve removed most of the burnt-out houses now."

Most of the houses he had built were holiday homes, including for clients from Boston, Melbourne and Sydney.

Mr Adams said he was contacted by a couple of previous clients who had expressed interest in rebuilding almost the same house.

"They’re wanting it rebuilt but with different landscaping.

"You have to get rid of that fuel source ... the wilding pines, the long grass."

He had been at Lake Ohau days before the fire, and said wind had been an issue.

"We poured the concrete for the garage and it was blowing a gale; it had been for weeks."

He first heard of the fire while in Oamaru, and was told a caravan parked next door to the house he was building was still standing, but had buckled and paint had peeled.

"I’m not sure how it survived."

The house he was building, which was insured, would take some time to complete but a frame was arriving this week.

"My daughter’s an architect and she designed it. It’s got quite a bit of work.

"We got very lucky, it could have been a whole rebuild."

It was difficult finding labourers and carpenters who were willing to travel and work at the site.

But he was hopeful the village would return to what it was before the fire.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand this week released preliminary figures for the October fire, with $34.8million pegged for insured losses.

emma.perry@odt.co.nz

 

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