Seven fires at vacant Chch houses

PRESS REPORTERS
Last updated 12:24 24/07/2013
Buckleys Rd house fire
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
WELL ABLAZE: A house fire in Buckleys Rd, Linwood, is being investigated.

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Investigators are at the scene of yet another suspicious fire in an abandoned home in Christchurch's eastern suburbs.

A Fire Service spokeswoman said police and a fire-safety officer were called to a small fire in an empty house in Aldershot St, Aranui, about 10.45am today.

The fire was "believed to be suspicious", she said.

It is the seventh suspected arson in less than a fortnight.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said police were considering whether there were any links.

"At the moment we can't establish a link, but that's not to say they are not linked,'' he said.

"We are certainly starting to have a closer look at whether the connection exists."

He asked the public to remain vigilant and report any activity they believed was suspicious.

The sixth suspected arson was at a house in Buckleys Rd, Linwood, which was well ablaze by the time three fire engines arrived soon after 12.30am today.

Fire crews put on breathing apparatuses to search the house in case people were inside, but they now believe it was abandoned.

Police were called to close Buckleys Rd while the fire was fought. It took almost three hours to get the blaze under control.

The suspected arsons include a fire at an abandoned River Rd house in Richmond about 1.55am yesterday.

It was only hours after a Marine Pde, New Brighton, garage was found ablaze at 11.45pm on Monday, and follows fires at an empty Salisbury St house last Tuesday, in a vacated house in Wainoni Rd, Avondale, last Saturday and in a red-zoned Ebbtide St, South New Brighton, house on July 13.

A man was yesterday charged with last week's arson of a recently vacated Birchfield Ave, Dallington, house.

Aaron James Swan, 28, who is listed as having no fixed abode, entered no pleas when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court.

He is also charged with threatening to kill a woman two days earlier, on July 15.

He was remanded in custody until Friday for an appearance in court by video-link from Christchurch Men's Prison.

Detective Dion Murray said suspicious fires were happening "all too often" in the city.

He said there was "no suggestion" they were linked.

In yesterday's blaze, firefighters arrived at the River Rd house, near the Stanmore Rd corner, to find what remained of the derelict house engulfed in flames.

The fire appeared to have started by the back door.

There was no evidence of squatters, Murray said.

He understood the house had been targeted by arsonists before.

Because there were few people living in the area, it appeared to have taken some time before the Fire Service was alerted.

The property was extensively damaged, and a digger was required to demolish what was left of the structure to allow a scene examination to be carried out safely.

Anyone with information on the River Rd fire should contact Murray on (03) 372 579 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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- The Press

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