Lake Ohau fire: Residents face long road to recovery as rebuild gets underway

Work is underway at Lake Ohau village to get the residents back in and to begin the rebuild.

Dozens of homes in the isolated township between Twizel and Omarama were destroyed by a wildfire last month. And the residents there still have a long road back to normality.

Burnt-out cars and the charred remains of many homes are still a major feature at Lake Ohau Village after the fire over a month ago.

Contractors are hard at work every day trying to clear the village so the rebuild can start.

"Sites have been cleared and we've got 16 sites where the demolition is in progress," says recovery manager Lichelle Guyan.

Just three permanent residents have moved back in and another seven applications to do so are in with the council.

The fire was one of New Zealand's worst-ever and destroyed 48 homes, burning through over 5000 hectares of land.

"This is the most houses lost in any single fire in New Zealand," Guyan says.

Hugh Spiers lost his home and his B&B business in the fire. He says he's not looking to blame anyone but he fears a witch hunt over how it started.

"There's people that can let it go and people that won't let it go," he says.

"We're certainly not part of that witchhunt ride, we've just accepted what's happened and our fate and are going to get on with our lives."

The speed of the fire was lightning fast but the full recovery will take months if not years.

The council is being extra cautious with movement in the area until everything is cleared away.

"This remains a very high wind zone and until those materials are cleared, we just need to manage that carefully," Guyan says.

Three sites for constructions have been approved but there is still lots of demolition to finish.

Homeowners have a long road ahead and many are eagerly awaiting the Fire and Emergency findings about the cause of the devastating blaze.