DOC fights for firefighting costs

DOC fights for firefighting costs

28 February 2008

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New Zealand — The Conservation Department is “taking steps to recover” the cost of fighting this month’s $800,000 bush fire at Aotuhia.

Investigators believe the fire was started deliberately in dead scrub on an adjoining farm during a total fire ban. It spread to DOC bush and destroyed 170 hectares over 14 days.

DOC’s Wanganui area manager Nic Peet said yesterday he was limited on what he could say publicly, but the department was seeking to recover part or all of the costs associated with the fire.

“We have a variety of ways to go about this, which I’m not prepared to elaborate on. The final investigation report is still being written up and we cannot move further until that is completed.”

Mr Peet said the cost of the fire would be between $500,000 and $800,000.

Helicopter operator Alan Beck said he would be billing DOC $500,000 for 10 days of aerial work with two machines. Helipro machines were also used.

Mr Peet said the Aotuhia outbreak was the biggest of three major fires that will have cost the Crown between $1 million and $1.5 million when all the bills are received.

The others were at Pipiriki and Waitotara, and a smaller one at Tangarakau. The Pipiriki fire was also investigated as suspicious, he said.

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