Lifetime memories lost in blaze

Arson will 'cast a shadow' over 80th birthday

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 24/10/2012
Lorna
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

DISTRAUGHT: Bromley retiree Lorna in the remains of her garage, which had been filled with her entire household of belongings until arsonists targeted her property early on Sunday.

Lorna
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
IRREPLACEABLE: Some of the photos damaged in a deliberately-lit blaze in Lorna’s garage. Others were not salvageable. The arson was one of three in Canterbury early on Sunday. They are not believed to be linked.

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An elderly Christchurch woman has lost her life's collection of furniture, along with irreplaceable family photos, after a spate of suspected arsons.

Lorna, 79, who wanted only her first name used, was yesterday picking through what could be salvaged after a fire that tore through the garage next to her Bromley home early on Sunday.

It was one of three suspected arson attacks in Canterbury early on Sunday. The other two were in red-zoned properties in Kaiapoi and Dallington.

Police do not believe the fires are linked.

Lorna had been staying with a friend while earthquake repairs were done on her home of 50 years.

She stored her entire household effects in the garage on the advice of her insurance company and was due to move back next week.

She will now be moving back into an empty house.

"I've got no furniture left. The blankets are gone, electric blankets, everything. I was darn lucky the gas bottles didn't blow in there," she said.

"I've lost a few tears over it."

The fire had "cast a shadow" over her 80th birthday in a few weeks.

Detective Mike Varnam said the fire at Lorna's home was "a random act of an arsonist" and there was "no way she was targeted".

A neighbour called the Fire Service after spotting the blaze, which started in a woodshed and spread into the garage, about 1.30am, he said.

Lorna said her friends sat her down with a cup of tea on Sunday morning to tell her what had happened.

"I decided to be brave and not go hysterical," she said.

All her property was insured and she would refurnish her home bit by bit.

However, she would have preferred her own things.

"These kids do these things. This is the consequence of what can happen. It's a bloody nuisance - idle hands that cause mischief."

Lorna's daughter, Jillian, said they had been able to save some photos, but many old black and white photos were lost.

About three skips of fire-damaged goods were taken to the dump yesterday.

Neighbour Susan said that when she saw the fire damage she "sat there and howled".

"It's just heartbreaking. I'm upset for Lorna and angry someone would do this. I'd like to see them [the offenders] strung up," she said.

At the Kaiapoi fire, about 12.50am, Jollie St resident Richard Stack awoke to someone banging on a window as an adjacent property became engulfed in flames. The heat melted paint off his house.

In Dallington, a two-storey weatherboard house in Banks Ave was destroyed by fire.

Fire safety officer Graham Davies said there was "no real pattern" to the fires.

The latest three followed two suspicious fires last week, in Kaiapoi and Phillipstown.

Anyone with information should phone Varnam on 373 9115.

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- The Press

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