Daylight arsons investigated

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2013
Paul Glanville
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

EXTENSIVE DAMAGE: Southland area fire investigator Paul Glanville examines a house damaged by fire in Crinan St, Invercargill. It is believed arsonists were responsible for the fire.

Paul Glanville
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
SUSPICIOUS: Paul Glanville examines a house damaged by fire in Tay St, Invercargill.

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Invercargill police are investigating a spate of serious crimes, including two house arsons, a vicious aggravated burglary and a family violence incident involving a knife.

The two house fires are believed to be the work of brazen arsonists who struck during daylight hours, authorities say.

Invercargill CIB is also investigating a serious assault that occurred during an aggravated burglary in the Richmond area on Christmas night.

The victims included a 52-year-old woman, a 34-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man, two of whom required hospital treatment for their injuries, police said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman, of Invercargill CIB, said aA 34-year-old man had been arrested for the aggravated burglary and would appear in the Invercargill District Court on assault charges today.

Police were also called to a serious family violence incident in which a man had threatened family members with a knife at an Invercargill property.

He was arrested, charged with several offences, held in police custody and will also appear in court today.

Firefighters were called to the first of two house fires, in Tay St, about 3pm on Christmas Day.

The second was in Crinan St about 8pm.

Mr Bowman confirmed both fires were being treated as arson. However, at this stage there was nothing to suggest the two homes had been torched by the same person.

Southland area fire investigator Paul Glanville said after sifting through the debris at the Tay St house it did not appear the fire had started by natural causes.

Heartbroken homeowner Priscilla Gear said no-one was home when the fire started. She and her children were returning from a festive celebration to find the house ablaze on Christmas Day.

Ms Gear, who returned home yesterday morning to talk with police and fire investigators, said it had been heartbreaking to find her home going up in smoke.

Her cat was still missing 24 hours after the blaze, which destroyed the front bedroom and caused heavy smoke damage through the rest of the house.

Mr Bowman said the Crinan St house, which had a bedroom gutted by fire, was empty and being renovated by its Otautau owner.

Police were asking members of the public who may have seen any suspicious behaviour in the areas of the house fires to contact them.

Arson attacks in broad daylight were rare, Mr Bowman said, and he urged witnesses to come forward.

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- The Southland Times

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