Arson leaves five homeless

Arson destroys Kapiti community house

KAROLINE TUCKEY
Last updated 08:39 09/01/2014
matai rd arson

Gutted: The Matai Rd boarded house destroyed by fire yesterday morning.

Matai Rd arson
KAROLINE TUCKEY/FAIRFAX NZ
Homeless: Residents have been left homeless, including George, left and Noel, right, with boarding house owner Pamela Watson

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Five people have been left homeless after arson turned their Raumati house into a ball of flames yesterday. 

Police said a resident from the Matai Rd property has been arrested in connection to the fire, after he made a 111 call to report it, just after 1am yesterday.

He was expected to appear in Porirua District Court today or tomorrow. The fire was ''very intense'', and well involved when the fire service reached the scene, Paraparaumu Fire Brigade station officer John Arthur said, and the five occupants home when it started were lucky to escape. 

''They were very lucky that they all got out, one of the residents must have woke up and alerted the others, there were no fire alarms.''The fire was started in the bedroom of the man who was arrested, he said. 

''It was very intense, flames coming out of just about every window, they were going up over the top of the roof,'' Mr Arthur said. 

''There's not much left there.''

Facility owner-operator Pamela Watson said she runs the residence for people who may not be able to find homes elsewhere, and is not sure where they will go now.

One resident has been at the house, which she calls a community house, for 25 years.  

She is appealing for public help to reconnect outbuildings at the property to the power supply to make them habitable, and to help demolish the burned main building and rebuild it. 

''I need some Christian builders and electricians, it's a community house, it's a community project, I want someone to help.

''I want to try to get this house rebuilt,'' she said yesterday at the site. 

Most of the residents lost everything in the fire, Ms Watson said, and appealed for help for essential personal items, and donations to help rebuild the house. 

Three fire trucks from Paraparaumu and Waikanae attended the blaze, which was made more difficult as hoses had to be run up a long driveway. 

''We were there in less than five minutes of getting the call ... [and] had it pulled right down within about 10 minutes, and then it took another three quarters of an hour to get rid of all the burning smouldering materials and put it right out,'' he said. 

One firefighter received minor burns to his arm and knee, Mr Arthur said. 

To reach Pamela Watson with donations of personal items, building materials or volunteer time call 021 293 3075. 

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