Arson suspected in Riccarton Rd fires
A string of suspicious fires in Christchurch is being investigated by the Fire Service.
Firefighters attended a fire that damaged a row of closed shops in Riccarton Rd at 3am yesterday, along with another fire in a rubbish skip one block away and a rubbish fire set against a wall at St Teresa's School on the corner of Puriri St and Riccarton Rd.
Fire Service assistant area manager Steve Kennedy said the investigation into the fire at the shops was being held up because the building needed to be made safe.
He said the other two fires were "definitely suspicious".
The fire severely damaged the row of closed shops. It had been home to several businesses before the earthquakes, including Tony's Japanese Restaurant, Rotherhams Law and an internet cafe.
However, the businesses had moved out of the building early this year because it was deemed unsafe by engineers.
Shift manager Andrew Norris said the Fire Service was first alerted to smoke coming out of the building just before 3am.
Four fire appliances and one command unit attended.
"It took them about one hour to get the fire under control and another 1 1/2 hours to tidy everything up."
There was no-one in the building at the time, Norris said.