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A rodent chewed electrical wires and triggered a blaze at the rear of a 153-year-old cottage near Arrow Junction on Easter Monday.
Southern region fire safety officer Stuart Ide, of Queenstown, said yesterday his investigation revealed the ''frizzled'' culprit. Rodents causing fires by biting through electrical wires was not uncommon in rural areas.
''We have rodents coming out of the bush looking for warm places to stay for the winter,'' Mr Ide said.
''The message is to stop them getting inside in the first place by using rat bait.''
Mr Ide said the fire was confined to the roof space of the 1970s rear extension of the historic cottage on Whitechapel Rd.
Arrowtown and Frankton firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus removed panels and insulation to tackle the blaze.
The alarm was raised by passing cyclists who spotted smoke billowing from the extension about 2.30pm. Mr Ide said the owner was insured and it was reminder to other householders to make sure their insurance policies were up to date.