Police seek leads to suspicious house fires
@devlincolle Christmas Day was ruined for an Invercargill resident who returned home from a festive celebration to find her house ablaze yesterday afternoon.
The fire is being treated as suspicious by police and the Fire Service.
Police and three fire appliances arrived at the house, on the corner of Tay and Ritchie streets, about 3pm.
They found a female occupant of the home comforting two teenage girls in tears and trying to find their pets.
The woman said no one was at home when the fire started and she did not know what had happened.
Invercargill senior station officer Neil Ladbrook said firefighters initially went into the smoke-filled house searching for the occupants.
Firefighters said they thought the fire started in one of the rooms before spreading to the roof , he said. The cause of the fire had yet to be determined,
However, they were treating it as suspicious, Mr Ladbrook said.
Sergeant Wing-wah Ng, of Invercargill, said police were working with the family who were understandably distraught.
Certain areas of the house were of interest to detectives who were carrying out an inquiry last night.
Police required help from the public, Sergeant Ng said.
"Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area yesterday afternoon should call police."
Meanwhile, an abandoned house in Invercargill was destroyed by fire last night.
Fire Communications shift manager Brent Dunn said the house in Crinan St was well ablaze when firefighters arrived.
It was completely destroyed, he said.
"Police are involved and it was deemed suspicious straight away," he said.
The Southland Times