Hearing over liability for the Port Hills fires to begin


A nine-week hearing to decide liability for destroyed homes and possessions in the 2017 Port Hills fires is scheduled to start in the High Court at Christchurch on Monday.

A group of Christchurch residents are taking lines company Orion and the Christchurch Adventure Park to court to try to recover losses, claimed to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The group claims the components of an Orion power pole was the source of one blaze and that the chair lift at the adventure park spread another. Both companies deny any liability.

The action is being co-ordinated by IAG on behalf of 73 plaintiffs, who have been paid out by the insurance company.

It is understood a significant portion of the money being sought relates to uninsured losses.

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A major fire started in Early Valley Rd in Lansdowne on February 13, 2017. A second starting close to Summit Rd, near the Sign of the Kiwi, later the same day.

The fires had merged by the night of February 15. They burned through 1600 hectares, destroying nine homes and damaging five others. They were largely under control by February 28 and declared extinguished on April 20.

The Pflaums' house (left) ablaze on Worsley Rd on February 15, 2017.

Joseph Johnson/Stuff

The Pflaums’ house (left) ablaze on Worsley Rd on February 15, 2017.

Among the plaintiffs is Doug and Vikki Pflaum, whose home burned to the ground. Doug Pflaum said more than three years later, they were yet to get a shovel in the ground to rebuild due to a lengthy consent process.

He said the couple got about half what the house was worth from insurance. They were trying to recover their uninsured costs through the courts.

Pflaum said they were not bitter about the fire as life was too short, and they had moved on in a lot of ways.

CAP general manager Anne Newman said the last three years had been tough and the park was looking forward to putting this behind them and being able to focus on the future.

Orion CEO Rob Jamieson said he was unable to comment as the matter was before the courts.

IAG declined to comment in advance of the hearing.