Auckland halls fires investigated

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 14:36 02/05/2014
auckalnd fires halls

DAMAGED: The Wainui Scout Hall in Point England.

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Fires that gutted two historic Auckland halls are being investigated by police.

The Pt England Wainui Scout Hall and Waiuku Town Hall were targeted by arsonists within seven hours of each other.

Five double kayaks were stolen from the Scout hall before the fire on Wednesday, Acting Detective Sergeant Keri Kimpton said.

The 60-year-old hall, on the corner of Tangaroa St and Dunkirk Rd, went up in flames about 9pm.

Nine fire crews from St Heliers, Howick, Mt Wellington, Onehunga, Otahuhu and Remuera stations attended.

A scene investigation was carried out yesterday.

"These kayaks are large and heavy and members of the public may have noticed them being removed or have spotted them following the theft.," Kimpton said.

Counties-Manukau South area commander, Inspector Jim Searle, said police had determined the Waiuku Town Hall fire was also deliberately lit.

The hall, in Queen St, Waiuku, is 55 kilometres away from the Scout hall. It is not known how old the town hall was.

The fire started at 2.30am yesterday. Six fire trucks worked to control the blaze.

Police wanted to speak to anyone who might be able to help with either investigation.

Pt England's Wainui Scouts leader Topsy Reynolds said a padlock on one door appeared to have been cut off.

Neighbours had reported seeing people near the Pt England hall when the fire started.

"Ribbons and trophies, certificates, and the kids' artwork all around the place, things that make it feel like home when you walk in the door" have been destroyed.

"There'll be a lot of really upset people, a lot of anger that the hub is gone. It's a senseless act. Just senseless."

"We've lost everything. We'll be starting from scratch, our camping equipment from tents to cooking, our gas cookers to our kayaks," she said.

The hall was built more than 60 years ago after the community raised funds for it, Reynolds said.

Residents heard the roar of the fire and reported seeing 20-metre high flames coming out of the hall.

The hall's structural damage was significant and it was highly likely it will have to be demolished.

Anyone with information about the Pt England fire is urged to contact Glen Innes police on 524 1943, or about either fire via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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- Fairfax Media

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