New Zealand — The Department of Conservation says it will seek compensation for a bush fire on the South Island’s West Coast if it can prove a link between it and a mystery helicopter crash at the weekend.
DOC staff spent 24 hours preventing a blaze near Stockton spreading to a habitat of the great spotted kiwi.
The department believes the fire was caused after the crash on Saturday night and wants to be reimbursed for the firefighting costs.
No crash report was made until late on Sunday when the helicopter had been removed from the scene. It is believed the pilot walked away unhurt.
The Civil Aviation Authority is now investigating.
Meanwhile, DOC says a fire which threatened the natural gas pipeline in the Waioeka Gorge between Gisborne and Opotiki was deliberately lit.
The fire, which covered about a hectare and a half of bush, began early on Monday afternoon.
Deputy Chief Rural Fire Officer Trevor Mitchell says it threatened not only valuable conservation areas but also the natural gas pipeline and power lines.
DOC is keen to hear from anybody who saw cars parked in the gorge at the time.