Two buildings burnt to the ground early yesterday morning at Whakapapa Ski field which is on Mt Ruapehu.
People who were staying in huts on the mountain woke around 1am Saturday morning to see a red sky. Some thought that Mt Ruapehu was erupting again. It is an active volcano and last erupted in September 2007. However, this time it was a fire. How did the fire start? Police think it was arson. Someone deliberately lit it.
The ski area is about 1 kilometre from the end of the road so it was hard to fight the fire. It takes more than an hour to climb to the ski field and then more time to climb higher to the two buildings. One building was the café with a shop and toilets, while the other had the large ski machinery in it. It could cost $4 or $5 million to replace these buildings because helicopters are needed to carry building materials high on the mountain.