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A Ruatapu home was razed by fire yesterday, the latest in a string of blazes that have gutted properties in Greymouth and Westland in the past 10 days.
The Butlers Rd, Ruatapu, house was well alight when the Hokitika Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived about 4.15pm yesterday, chief Harry Collett said.
The old wooden former mill house was too far gone when crews from Hokitika, Ross and Greymouth arrived.
"They knew they couldn't save the house so concentrated on saving the other houses around it," Collett said.
"Water was also an issue so we had to get a tanker from Westland Milk Products to assist."
Christopher Stewart, who lives nearby, watched fire volunteers battle blaze.
"It took about an hour or so before the house was completely flattened," Stewart said.
Collett said the house was not occupied at the time.
"I believe a guy had been using it as a holiday home. We believe the house was not insured."
Greymouth Sergeant Andrew Lyes said police and fire investigators were today investigating how the fire started.
"A sole elderly occupant wasn't home at the time," Lyes said.
It is the fourth fire within two weeks to destroy houses in the greater Westland area.
At Kumara Junction a vacant wooden cottage was destroyed on October 8.
The owner had recently died and relatives had been visiting the property but were not there when the fire broke out. An electric heater was thought to have been a possible cause but police appealed for information about anything unusual at the property, next to to State highway 6.
At Runanga about 3am on Tuesday a vacant house in Ranfurly St erupted into flames in suspicious circumstances.
The neighbours fled as the flames got close to their house and firefighters fought the blaze. The older wooden house was gutted.
And in central Greymouth early yesterday a house bus was torched.
The bus was also not occupied at the time, with the owner apparently staying elsewhere for the night. The fire was regarded as suspicious.
Police were investigating hte fires, Lyes said.
"We're hearing all sorts of rumours but until someone can come and tell us, it's hearsay. It would be nice to get a good lead in the inquiry."
- by Brendon McMahon and Janna Sherman