Lessons from the fire: Lake Ōhau residents meet with authorities

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Lake Ōhau Village residents have met with authorities to identify lessons from the fire which destroyed dozens of homes last year.

The framework is all that remains of this Lake Ōhau Village home.

The framework is all that remains of this Lake Ōhau Village home. Photo: Supplied

The fire tore through the village, damaging or destroying 48 properties in October last year.

Waitaki District Council held a meeting with residents on Saturday to get their feedback and to identify opportunities for improvement.

Mayor Gary Kircher said residents valued the fire alert system and fire evacuation plan.

“They made acknowledgement of how lucky they were to get out and there was learning for similar villages that they hoped would be officially shared.

“It was noted that the community had been most impressed with the care demonstrated by each of the agencies involved, specifically assessing and responding to individual needs throughout the event and recovery.”

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Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the residents complimented how authorities and emergency services responded Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Residents pointed out communication concerns, with some feeling the media coverage prior to formal notification of which properties had been damaged was difficult.

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They requested the council come up with a replanting plan to manage land after pest and damaged trees are removed and a guaranteed water supply.

Kircher said it was a good session where locals were also updated on a range of aspects to do with the fire and the response.

“More importantly it was an opportunity for them to let us know what they thought went well, what didn’t go well, and what they want to see for the future of the Lake Ōhau Village and surrounding area.

“Overall, there were many compliments about what happened and how our council, FENZ (Fire Emergency NZ), and other organisations responded, and we will continue to do what we can to improve further, when inevitably another event happens again,” Kircher said.

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