Teen admits causing South Shore dune fire

South Brighton-101A 17-year-old has admitted causing a sand dunes fire that forced the evacuation of 12 South Shore homes.

Jayvan James Simms admitted that he caused the fire in the dry undergrowth and tussock grass in a reserve at the South Shore end of Marine Parade in November.

He pleaded guilty to an arson charge in the Christchurch District Court today.

The fire took hold rapidly and took over three hours to get under control by the Fire Service. It required a large scale operation, using about 60 firefighters and a helicopter with a monsoon bucket. The last fire crew worked until 10pm on November 30.

The fire forced 12 families of South Shore residents to flee their homes, came within metres of some of their houses, and smoke damaged some of them.

Simms told the police he had been smoking a cigarette and accidentally dropped the butt into the sand dunes. He said he and an associate tried to put the fire out but couldn’t.

Judge Paul Kellar remanded Simms on bail for sentencing on July 13.

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