Blaze tears through red-zone house

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 10:57 18/02/2014
Courtenay Dr fire
John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

WRITE OFF: The Courtenay Dr property was 75 per cent destroyed in the suspected arson.

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A Kaiapoi house earmarked for relocation has been destroyed in a suspected arson. 

It comes after a short hiatus in red-zone arsons in the North Canterbury town. 

Firefighters were called to the Courtenay Dr address about 2.15pm yesterday.

Kaiapoi Fire Brigade chief fire officer Paul Delis said the fire was mostly in the roof cavity.  

Crews had to return to the house about 10pm after hot embers in the roof reignited in the norwest wind, he said. 

Police said the property is in the residential red zone, but the house was to be relocated elsewhere. 

Detective Sergeant Rex Barnett said the house was 75 per cent destroyed in the suspected arson.  

Arsonists seemed to forget that simply because a house was in a red zone, did not mean it was earmarked for demolition, he said. 

Only bricks from the single-storey dwelling, built just prior to the February 2011 earthquake, were likely to be salvageable. 

''The house was of considerable value. It is now close to a write-off,'' he said. ''It's a loss.''

Barnett said the fire appeared to have started in a wardrobe towards the back of the house. Water cylinder, copper pips and taps had been stolen, but this may not have been linked to the arson. 

Police found evidence of people having been drinking in the area. The neighbouring two properties had also been targeted by thieves, Barnett said.

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) spokeswoman said the authority was still conducting safety patrols in the residential red zone to help prevent such criminal activity from occurring. 

''The destruction of these properties is not only a disappointing loss of someone's potential future home, but can be incredibly upsetting and frightening for those residents still living in the residential red zone or their green zone neighbours,'' she said. 

The spokeswoman encouraged anyone who saw any suspicious activity to phone 111 immediately. 

Barnett said there were a number of arsons in the Kaiapoi and Pines Beach residential red zones last year, but there had been none in a few weeks.

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- The Press

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