Arson shuts down local auto shop

MYLES HUME
Last updated 09:56 10/08/2014
arson
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ

FIRE DAMAGE: Ben Milligan checks out a vehicle damaged by heat after his father Dean Milligan's automotive business on Hazeldean Rd was hit by arsonists.

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A Christchurch mechanic who maintains the region's ambulances will operate in a makeshift workshop for months after an arsonist destroyed his building.

Milligan Automotive owner Dean Milligan was angered someone deliberately lit a fire estimated to have caused more than $100,000 in damage to his Hazeldean Rd business this morning.

He spent Sunday working with Christchurch police and Fire Service fire investigator Marc Reveley, who said the arsonist lit material stacked outside the building which spread inside through a door about 5.50am.

The fire damaged hoists, vehicles, stock and machinery and destroyed the roof.

Milligan and his staff maintain about 100 St John vehicles in Canterbury and must remain open as the business is relied upon daily.

''We will be operating out of Disraeli Automotive around the corner and have a container on the way to move around there, it could be this way for the next three months,'' Milligan said.

''Business will be affected - we won't be able to get the same amount of cars through than we could.''

The company had public liability and stock and plant insurance, but the building was uninsured because he recently received a pay out by his own insurer to have earthquake damage repaired, Milligan said.

Leighs Construction were to begin repair work on Monday while the business remained open. Once the repairs were done and the building was up to code, it could be insured again.

That left him ''a bit unsure'' about what happened next.

''I'm just gutted - what started as a small fire has destroyed the building and created a big hassle.''

Milligan said he put a pile of wooden pellets, plastic containers and fluorescent light bulbs wrapped in curtains outside the building on Saturday after painting the workshop floor.

He planned to dump the material.

The arsonist lit the curtain material, which caught the pellets and burned through the door, before gaining momentum when it reached a wrack of 10 tyres inside, Milligan said.

''The only reason it was out there was because we painted the floor; I usually don't leave things out to avoid this.''

Detective Sergeant Craig Johnson said a police dog was used to track the offender, but the scent was lost at a nearby cemetery on Selwyn St.

He hoped video footage from other businesses in the area or sightings from witnesses would reveal the offender.

Information can be passed on to police on (03) 363 7400 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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- The Press

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