24 May 2009

Scott Base retreat destroyed by fire

3:55 pm on 24 May 2009

Fire has destroyed a piece of New Zealand history in Antarctica.

An A-frame hut near Scott Base caught fire when a routine changeover of diesel fuel heating tanks, went wrong and priming fuel ignited.

The building was discarded by the US McMurdo Base in 1971, but was turned into a field training base. It occasionally served as a retreat for visiting New Zealand scientists, politicians and artists.

Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Lou Sanson says it was the favourite haunt of Sir Edmund Hillary who spent his last night in Antarctica there in 2007.

He says one person suffered minor burns in the fire.