20 Mar 2020

Two guilty of lighting fires in tinder-dry Tasman in 2019

From Checkpoint, 5:41 pm on 20 March 2020

A man who deliberately lit fires in tinder-dry Tasman last year initially posed as a frightened resident who had to be evacuated from his home.

Benjamin Durrant and Abigail Page have been on trial for lighting a fire on the side of Moutere Highway in late February, three weeks after a huge blaze started in Pigeon Valley.

A short time ago, a jury in their High Court trial in Wellington found them guilty of arson - and lighting another fire on Pigeon Valley Road in early March.

Most residents who had to evacuate their homes in Tasman's Redwood Valley when fire broke out.

Durrant was interviewed by RNZ reporter Katie Scotcher as firefighters fought the blaze.

He told her he had to leave in such a hurry he didn't have time to grab a t-shirt before evacuating his property.