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Criminal investigation into Port Hills fires ongoing

"Criminal investigation into Port Hills fires ongoing "

Police are seeking new information from the public as the criminal investigation into the Port Hills fires from February of this year continues.

The Port Hills fires started as two separate fires on 13 February 2017.

The two fires later merged into one large fire on 15 February.

In the wake of the fires, Fire and Emergency New Zealand has been undertaking two investigations, looking into the cause and origin of how the two separate fires started.

While the investigation into the cause and origin of the Marley’s Hill Fire is being finalised it can be confirmed that the investigation has found that the cause of the fire is suspicious, requiring Police investigation.

“Police are seeking any new information from the public and would like to hear from anyone who has information in regard to the fires if they haven’t yet spoken with us,” said Detective Inspector Greg Murton.

“The criminal investigation into these fires is very complex.

Our investigation is well advanced, evidence gathering and inquires at the scene have been completed and a range of witnesses have been spoken to,” said Detective Inspector Murton.

“These fires had a devastating impact on the Port Hills and wider community and we encourage anyone who has information that may help find the person responsible to come forward.”

“Someone in the community will have information that is crucial to this investigation and we encourage you to make contact with us,” said Detective Inspector Murton.

Anyone with new information is asked to called Christchurch Police on 03 363 7400.

Information can also be shared anonymously via CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

“As this is now a criminal investigation, the report and its findings cannot be released or discussed.

We understand this may be frustrating for residents who are anxious to know more information about the fires.”

The investigation into the second Cause and Origin Fire Investigation Report is still ongoing and expected to take at least a couple of months, said Leigh Deuchars, Director, Officer of the Chief Executive, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

“The immediate focus for Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the wake of the fires was on putting them out, ensuring the safety of the community and limiting the damage to property as much as possible,” said Ms Deuchars.

“When a fire is suspicious, it becomes a criminal investigation managed by the Police.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand provides our report and any other information we can to the police, for them to carry out a criminal investigation into how the fire was started and by whom.”

“These investigations are taking some time to complete given the scale, damage and amount of information, some being very technical, that needs to be considered.

We are carrying out a thorough investigation, in as timely a manner as possible,” Ms Deuchars said.

ENDS

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