Electrical issue sparked fatal fire

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An “electrical issue” is being investigated as the cause of the fatal caravan fire at Club Waimea caravan park on Saturday night.

Brian Lewis Halvorsen, aged 64, died after a fire destroyed his caravan in the park at about 8pm on Saturday. Nelson fire service specialist fire investigator Craig Piner revealed on Wednesday that “we are investigating an electrical issue but that’s all I can say as the rest of the investigation is with the coroner”.

Craig had said earlier that it had been a complex investigation with a lot of things we have to check off” and “a lot of ifs and buts”.  Nelson police have also been involved with the investigation and have referred the case to the coroner.

However, Craig says the tragedy underlined the need for people living in caravans to take extra fire safety precautions. He says caravans have more combustible materials than a house and it was absolutely essential to install smoke alarms and have an escape plan.

“You need two ways out in a caravan. Caravans only have one door so you need to have something nearby to break the window – you can’t go and hide in another room in a caravan.”

 Te “volatility” of caravans was tragically illustrated in Saturday’s fire which Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Ralph Lonsdale says “went up like a rocket”. Nothing but the charred remains of the caravan’s chassis were left after the blaze was extinguished.

Club Waimea managers Jan Phipps and Mike Carter say they were deeply shocked at the fire that they labelled a tragedy.

“The residents are a very close community and it has hit them hard, but everyone has really joined together over the whole weekend.”

Mike says it was a ferocious blaze and the caravan went up extremely fast. “We are just grateful there was a fortunate wind direction and no one else was hurt.”

Flags were flying at half mast in the caravan park this week as a mark of respect to the victim.