Port Hills residents conduct their own investigation to find cause of disastrous 2017 fire

Port Hills residents have spent thousands of dollars conducting their own investigations into what started the Port Hills fires

They have brought in lines expert Richard Healy to conduct lab tests and believe they have solved the mystery. 

Healy is a lines expert paid by Port Hills residents to find out what happened two years ago to ignite the fires. 

Healy replicated what he thinks happened in a lab at Canterbury University. The residents group believe the fire started at a power pole. 

The culprit, an outdated fuse link, overloaded with energy sparking the blaze 

"I put my spotlight up and the fuse is up there and one fuse was dropped down and then put my spotlight around the ground where we put the fire out and there was the fuse sitting there accusingly," said Port Hills resident Ian Duff.

The fire burnt out of control across the Port Hills for four days consuming nine homes and 1600 hectares of land.

"This is a problem that is well known and well documented worldwide this isn't something out of the Wild West here," said Healy.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand ruled this out, saying it was undetermined.  

But Healy has pored over their report and found inconsistencies including the wrong model of fuselink installed on the pole. 

"This is the same model of fuse assembly that was present in early valley road and it's pretty easy to demonstrate in fact that you simply cannot fit that fuse in there so it simply cannot be that fuse," he said.

And the assumption that the fuse link was is installed the correct way up, Healy has a photo that proves it was installed upside down.

"When it's upside down it means that the bulk of the material will exit the top of the fuse and not the bottom and therefore the fire will start on the other side of the pole and that's exactly where the fire started," said Healy.



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