Welles St fire site too risky to inspect
The Christchurch City Council-owned property hit by a suspicious blaze has been judged too dangerous for fire investigators to enter.
Fire safety officer Mark Thomas said Sunday's fire had further weakened the earthquake-damaged building and it was now too dangerous to enter.
The council was calling contractors in to begin demolishing parts of the central-city building so that fire investigators could examine the scene. This was likely to happen today.
"At this stage we just don't know what caused it," he said.
The council bought the 8200-square-metre building in Welles St in 2008 as part of a controversial $17 million bailout of troubled property developer David Henderson.
The building, for which the council paid $4.9m, was badly damaged in the quakes and was slated for demolition.
Neighbours say it was frequently targeted by vandals. They had complained repeatedly to the council about its neglected state.
Council corporate support manager Sue Chappell said "a couple of complaints" had been received about break-ins and trespassing.
"We haven't received any complaints about the state of the building as part of the building was severely damaged by the earthquake and was subsequently secured."
The building was not fully insured "as it had been bought for future site development".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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