Residents return home a month after Lake Ōhau fire

Aerial photographs have revealed the scope of the devastating damage cause by the fire at Lake Ohau. Photo: Pool
Aerial photographs have revealed the scope of the devastating damage cause by the fire at Lake Ohau. Photo: Pool
Two Lake Ōhau residents have marked a month since a fire tore through their village with their first night sleeping in their own beds.

Roughly half of the properties were damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Eleven properties have been demolished so far - up from eight last Friday - with 21 properties confirmed for demolition over the next three weeks.

Waitaki District Council recovery manager Lichelle Guyan said the two residents requested and were granted special consideration to return home earlier than the planned 9 November date.

"Given where those properties are located in relation to demolition work, we're comfortable that we can manage the health and safety of those individuals," Guyan said.

"They're very happy to be back."

A skilled team of Waitaki District Council staff and contractors were working hard to make this as easy as possible for residents, she said.

"What I've witnessed is an incredible community of people. They very much look out for each other and it gives you a lot of faith in the community's ability to rebuild when you see how much they've pulled together this situation.

"To be a month in and to have some buildings - a good number - demolished and to have some residents starting to make their way back into the village is a sign of how committed we are to getting the best outcome for the residents."

Guyan said it was important the village had a plan, and the events of the night showed it had worked.

"Although not everybody who was staying in the village that night was aware of the plan, the plan in itself worked because everybody got out and if every small community had something like that, they would be in a better position that they are today without one."

She hoped to release the recovery document for the community's feedback to talk about the bigger picture and longer term factors that needed to be considered. It would be considered alongside the review of the district plan.

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