18 Oct 2017

Port Hills fires: Insurer takes legal action

12:21 pm on 18 October 2017

Insurer IAG is taking legal action against Christchurch Adventure Park and lines company Orion Goup over the Port Hills fires.

The fire seen from the Kordia transmission tower.

The Port Hills fire Photo: Supplied

Two separate fires started in February several kilometres apart. The first began on Early Valley Road and the second started on Marley's Hill.

A helicopter pilot died fighting the fires, which eventually combined into one large blaze that gutted 11 houses and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

In a statement, Orion said IAG was claiming the Early Valley Road fire started following a failure of Orion's electricty equipment.

Orion denies the allegations and plans to file a statement of defence at the High Court today.

"We understand that the people of Christchurch need to know what caused the Port Hills fires," the statement said.

"The Fire Service is the lead agency investigating the possible causes. Its investigators have requested information from us on several occasions, including very recently.

"We are co-operating with the Fire Service's investigators, and providing them with the information they have requested about our network, including how it operated on 13 February."

Orion said the investigation was yet to be completed and the cause of the fire was still to be determined.

The action against the Christchurch Adventure Park is understood to relate to whether it spread the fire by keeping its chairlift running.

A spokesperson for the park said they had received a statement of claim and was reviewing it.

In July, police launched a criminal investigation after the cause of the Marley's Hill fire was found to be suspicious.

Port Hills resident Jo Kinley, whose home suffered smoke damage, says the insurance company was right to try to determine who was at fault and recover costs.

A line of flames on the hill.

Two fires eventually combined into one large blaze, gutting 11 houses and forcing thousands to flee their homes. Photo: RNZ / Julian Vares

Aftermath of the fires in the Port Hills, Christchurch. Thursday. 16 February 2017

Scorched hills in the aftermath of the Port Hills fires in February. Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

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