Arson charges over Titahi Bay fire

Arson charges over Titahi Bay fire

22 February 2010

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New Zealand —   A 14-year-old boy and another young person have been charged with arson relating to a blaze in Titahi Bay, near Wellington, that forced the evacuation of about 150 people.

Police say the 14-year-old was to appear in the Youth Court at Porirua on Monday.

The fire started at a Department of Conservation reserve in Shelley Bay about 4.20pm on Sunday. Blustery northwest winds fanned flames towards houses from mid-afternoon sending ash and burning embers drifting into back yards.

Four helicopters with monsoon buckets and six fire crews from around the region battled the blaze on Sunday, and crews resumed efforts to put out the blaze at 6am on Monday.

Those whose homes around Gloaming Hill and Crown Hill were at risk have been allowed to return to their properties. Some evacuees were accommodated in homes in Porirua on Sunday night.

Up to 30 hectares of bush in Whitireia Park, east of the Titahi Bay golf course, has been left charred by the blaze.

Porirua mayor Jenny Brash says she would like to see whoever set the fire made to replant what has been destoyed.

Police say there was smoke damage to some houses but no-one was injured. Kapiti-Mana area commander of police, Inspector John Spence, said fire crews kept the fire away from houses and the Titahi Bay golf course clubhouse.

Fire incident controller Craig Cottrill says crews will have to monitor the site of the fire for another week as the area is so dry.

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