A suspicious fire has gutted a Palmerston North house on a popular student street.
Palmerston North firefighters were called to the Morris St flat about midnight.
Senior station officer Ian King said they arrived to a "substantial fire".
"It’s one of the larger, older houses on the College St end," Mr King said.
The blaze gutted the front of the house and caused extensive damage to the rest of it.
No one was in the house at the time.
Police said only one of the flat’s occupants they had contacted was in Palmerston North, and they would attempt to speak to the others today. Many students had left the area for mid-semester break.
Mr King said the fire appeared to have been deliberately lit on the front porch. Fire and police officers would return to the house today to investigate.
A sign on the fence indicated the flat was part of the Eco-Wars student competition this year.
The competition, run by Student City, saw student flats compete against each other to make their house the most environmentally friendly.
Two Morris St flats were in this year’s competition and one of them – The Playful Priests – won the supreme award.
The Playful Priests team comprised six men.
The other Morris St flat in the competition, ‘‘Gangsters Paradise’’, was made up of four men.
It was unclear this morning which of the two flats had been destroyed in the blaze. In 2008 Morris St was the scene of about 10 bon fires lit by students celebrating the end of exams. The out of control partying sparked a huge police response, with 14 people arrested as a crowd of about 200 young people was dispersed.
- Manawatu Standard