Close call after tyre explosion

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:00 17/11/2012

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The occupants of a Highbury Ave address have never been so grateful for the sound of a red-hot tyre exploding.

Amanda Rossiter awoke to that sound shortly after 3am yesterday as her van, parked less than a metre from her house and close to the gas mains, went up in flames.

Mrs Rossiter said she went outside to find flames rising metres into the air from her diesel Nissan Largo, and immediately tried to control the blaze with her garden hose.

When that didn't appear to have any effect and with fire scorching the fence in front of the van, she turned the hose on the house in the hope it would help prevent it going on fire too.

"The whole house would have gone up like a tinderbox. It was quite scary how close it got".

The van, which cost her $8000 five years ago, was uninsured because it was off the road with an air-conditioning pipe problem.

It had been parked outside the house for about eight months and she had been planning on getting it back on the road in the next few weeks, she said.

She had been using the van as a storage area for some of her late grandmother's belongings, which she had to move out of the house while she redecorated a room.

Some of those items, including bedspreads she remembers being in her grandmother's home from her childhood, were lost in the fire.

Mrs Rossiter said she was told by the fire service the fire had been lit using something stuffed up into the front corner of the van.

It particularly concerned her that there had been three children under the age of 10 in the house.

The person who lit the fire didn't appear to have any regard for how easily it could have burnt down their house.

"It was so brazen. Who knows what will happen next time."

Detective Constable Jasmine Woollett, of Palmerston North, said police believed four other fires lit in the Highbury area early yesterday - two in rubbish bags, one in a wheelie bin and one in a garden shed - were connected to the torching of Mrs Rossiter's van.

One bike was stolen when a fire was lit in the garden shed in Stillwater Pl, but it had since been recovered.

Police were still investigating.

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- Manawatu Standard

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