Fire damaged house an open home

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 06:44 17/09/2012
Arson house open home
MURRAY WILSON/Fairfax NZ
GUTTED: Ryan and Keagan Findlay look into one of the bedrooms.

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People have had a close look at a Palmerston North house damaged in a fire that left six students without a roof over their heads.

The Morris St house was badly damaged in an August 31 fire later confirmed to have been an arson attack, which is still under investigation by police.

Only one of the six students living at the house had contents insurance, leaving them high and dry and reliant on community generosity and a well-publicised Trade Me auction of a ‘‘smokey’’ jar of Marmite.

Before the weekend, Palmerston North firefighters dropped leaflets to houses in student neighbourhoods, inviting the public to take a look at the damage.

Saturday’s open home featured a sausage sizzle to raise money for the former tenants, who had also received an outpouring of public sympathy for their plight in the form of donations and offers of clothing and accommodation.

Former tenant Hogan Gill said it had been tough to return to the house, watching the public pick through their blackened belongings.

‘‘For some of the boys it was a bit traumatic being in there again. One of the guys got quite upset going in there again, but we’re pulling through.’’

Mr Gill said they had been overwhelmed by the generosity of the community, with individuals and businesses donating everything from clothing to beds.

The investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing, with police treating the blaze as an arson. 

It was believed the fire started on a couch on the porch, possibly lit by a burglar to cover their tracks after taking items from the house.

Police were asking people to be on the lookout for a 42-inch Panasonic 3-D flat-screen plasma television that was taken from the property.

Anyone with information on the fire can call Palmerston North police, (06) 351 3600, or the Crimestoppers line, 0800 555 111, anonymously.

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- Manawatu Standard

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