Police: Arsonists may be targeting occupants

17:00, Jul 30 2013

The former occupants of a house engulfed by flames in the small town of Kaitangata on Monday may be the target of arsonists, police say.

Detective Constable Robin Hutton, of Balclutha, said it was the second suspicious fire on the property.

The old wooden single-storey house was unoccupied at the time of the latest fire but the former tenants still had items stored at the property, he said.

The Fire Service was called there on June 13 after a shed on the property was also gutted, and police believed the two fires were linked, he said.

"It may very well be the same person or group of people responsible for both fires and it's the same people occupying the address at the time of the two suspicious fires."

It could not be ruled out that the people occupying the address might be a target for an individual or group, Mr Hutton said.

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Police were keeping all lines of inquiry open.

The cause of the fire was still undetermined, with Southern Region fire safety officer Stuart Ide completing a report for police, Mr Hutton said.

Kaitangata has a long history of suspicious fires.

In 2010, the town was rocked by a spate of arson attacks which destroyed several buildings.

However, Mr Hutton said he did not believe the recent fires were linked to the historical ones.

The Southland Times