Police treat fatal fire as unexplained

Police are discounting suggestions of foul play in the death of a man in a remote homestead fire north of Napier, although the cause of the blaze has not yet been established.

As Environmental Science and Research (ESR) staff and police yesterday continued examining the remains of the razed two-storey home near Waikoau, a railway line township west of Tutira and about 45km from Napier, the Hawke's Bay's CIB head, Detective Senior Sergeant David de Lange, said the fire was being treated as "unexplained" and inquiries needed to be completed for a report to a coroner.

Items had to be examined, and the investigation included checking the movements before the fire of the person found dead in the ashes, yet to be formally identified but believed to be home owner and sole occupant Marty Carswell, 57.

Police believed he'd been "out and about" on Sunday, the day of the fire.

The blaze was reported by a neighbour investigating a pall of smoke about 5.30pm.

However, smoke had been noticed by people in the Waikoau area for a while beforehand and investigators had not determined when the fire might have started, Mr de Lange said.

Police knew of no previous incidents that could possibly be linked to the tragedy.

The wider area has a history of cannabis growers and poachers trespassing on farmers' land.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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