Arson attack on family days after house blaze

TRACEY CHATTERTON AND TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2013

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A Hastings family are reeling from a suspected arson attack just days after they escaped a house fire.

Emergency services were called to the Fitzroy Ave villa about 4am yesterday.

Senior station officer Kerry Harford, of the Hastings fire service, said crews arrived "in the nick of time" as part of the house was well ablaze with flames coming out a window. Firefighters confined the fire to the bedroom it started in.

It was being treated as suspicious because of signs of a break-in, Mr Harford said. Police are investigating.

Just days earlier, Vanessa Abraham-Smith had jumped out of her window, with her 10-year-old son and pet dog, escaping her burning bedroom.

A smoke alarm woke the mother about 4am last Thursday. Once out of her smoke-filled room, she got her three older children out the back of the house and rang emergency services. A damaged electrical lead caused the fire. The family had since been staying in a motel.

Abraham-Smith was shocked that someone could have purposely set her home alight.

"You laugh about it one moment and cry the next."

She had been on a "bit of a high", grateful that the family had got through the first fire. However, the second blaze brought disbelief, shock and anger.

"It looks like someone has broken in and done it for a bit of fun."

The latest fire had caused a lot more smoke and water damage to the home.

While it was "just a building", she was more upset that it was a suspected arson, she said.

"It's our home, we raised our babies in it for the last 15 years, now it's almost quite scary that things could have gone so wrong."

The family would stay at the motel longer while they filed a second insurance claim and worked out if they could return to their home.

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- The Dominion Post

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