Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Waiheke mansion to be burnt room by room

The property formerly owned by Mark Hotchin. Photo / File
The property formerly owned by Mark Hotchin. Photo / File

One of the most exclusive luxury homes on Waiheke Island will be burnt to the ground room by room this weekend by the Waiheke Volunteer Fire Brigade.

The two-level five-bedroom home on a 4.5 hectare Matapana Rd section at Boatshed Bay will go up in smoke in a training exercise for the Fire Brigade on Saturday - weather permitting.

The home was offered to the brigade after its owners, husband and wife Brent and Denise Sutton and John Burns, had looked into moving the property or demolishing the house but found the options too expensive.

Fire brigade deputy fire chief Bruce Scia Scia said the home would be burnt room by room which would provide multiple learning opportunities for fire fighters training on the day.

"From a training point of view we are going to be setting small fires inside the room, watching the fire develop to a stage where it is no longer safe to be inside so then we will pull out of a house and a firefighting crew will then go in and extinguish that fire.

"Then, in our debrief, we will go back in, have a look and see how that fire behaved inside the room," he said.

"We will do that probably half a dozen times throughout the day and by that stage the building will be in a pretty burnt state after there has been fire at both ends of it so we are planning on knocking the house into a pile with a digger and then burning what remains."

Mr Scia Scia said the opportunity would be an invaluable learning experience for fire crew.

"We turn up to house fires and we are actually putting them out so to watch fire development and try a few different fire attack scenarios, we just don't get that in the real world.

"This type of opportunity comes up very rarely. This will only by the second one in 30 years on Waiheke. [Houses] are offered every couple of years but most of them are derelict one bedroom shacks in the middle of the bush that we just get no training benefit out of but having this one offered with its substantial size and its proximity to neighbours and bush, it is great. There couldn't be a better facility for us."

Mr Scia Scia said the owners had moved out of the house about three weeks ago and the house was now empty.

The brigade would however bring their own furniture to put inside the property.

He said a site visit by fire service trainers would be conducted tomorrow and a burn plan would be in place by Friday morning.

Around 30 firefighters would be on site on Saturday, including crews from Auckland who would cover for the volunteer brigade for the first half of the day, trainers, safety officers and two water tankers to deal with any issues that may arise.

Some Waiheke residents have however expressed concerns about the fire.

"Are people aware that the $15 million property at Boatshed Bay next to Palmy Beach is scheduled to be burnt to the ground this Saturday?" asked Lyndal Jefferies on one online forum.

"The neighbours are so worried about their pets, the bush at the bottom of their section and the acrid carcinogenic smoke."

Mr Scia Scia said 90 per cent of locals supported the training. The Fire Service had to "jump through hoops" to get the necessary consents and had plans in place for factors such as monitoring winds.

Neighbours had been informed via a letter drop, he said.

Neither Mr and Mrs Sutton nor Mr Burns could be reached for comment.

- NZ Herald

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