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Police investigation into Port Hills fires ongoing

"Police investigation into Port Hills fires ongoing"

Please attribute to Detective Inspector Greg Murton:

The Police investigation into the cause of the Port Hills fires is continuing.

The investigation team has received the Fire and Emergency New Zealand report about the Early Valley Road fire and is grateful for the comprehensive and detailed investigation conducted by fire investigators into the devastating Port Hills fires.

Police and Fire and Emergency NZ have worked collaboratively throughout the investigation.

At this point in time, the Police investigation has focused on the two separate fires, the Early Valley Road fire which started at about 5:40pm on Monday 13 February 2017, and the Marley Hill fire which commenced at about 7pm the same evening.

The investigation team has relied heavily on the scene examinations of both fires by specialist arson investigators to determine the cause of both fires.

The Marley Hill fire is considered to be suspicious, owing to the absence of any other known cause.

It was not caused as a result of embers or anything else to do with the earlier fire.

A person was seen at the time at the site of where the fire commenced.

This fire is still under investigation, and is considered to have been a criminal act.

The cause of the Early Valley Road fire has been considered by specialist fire investigators to be ‘undetermined’, with the various causes being considered.

The most likely cause according to specialist fire investigators was that this fire was deliberately lit, although an electrical cause cannot be ruled out.

That being the case, the Police investigation into the Early Valley Road fire also remains open.

Further enquiries are being conducted with witnesses, fire specialists, and others.

This includes further enquiries identified as a result of Police receiving a copy of the Fire and Emergency NZ report into the Early Valley Road fire.

Police appeal to anyone who has new information about either fire to come forward, they can call Canterbury Police on 03 363 7400 or provide information anonymously via Crimestoppers.

ENDS

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