Teens suspects in South Canterbury fires

Spate of fires around South Canterbury

ALEXIA JOHNSTON AND MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013
Burnt bus
SARAH LAWSON/Fairfax NZ

WORSE FOR WEAR: A house bus, stolen from a Timaru holiday park, was dumped at the Pareora River and set alight.

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LATEST: A burning car ignited nearby scrub in an early morning incident the Timaru Fire Service has called "suspicious".

Firefighters called to George Ward Rd about 5.40am found a vehicle had caught fire at the roadside and the blaze had spread to the surrounding brush.

Timaru police said it was possible the car had been towed to the scene. The incident is under investigation.

It follows a weekend in which South Canterbury fire services dealt with several suspicious fires.

In one incident, a bus was stolen from Glenmark Holiday Park about 5am on Saturday and set alight at the Pareora River sometime before 8.40am.

Other fire brigade callouts involved a burning rubbish bin, trees and vegetation.

TEENS SUSPECTS IN FIRE

A spate of suspicious fires has "wasted" precious time and resources during the weekend and the fire service now wants people's help to catch the culprits.

Fire services throughout South Canterbury spent the weekend dealing with a range of suspicious fires, including a burning bus, trees and shrubs.

Senior station officer Garry Parker wants anyone with information relating to any of the fires to call the police.

He has also stepped up his plea to parents of teenagers.

"If parents smell smoke on their teenagers' clothes (they should) contact the police."

He said teenagers were seen in the vicinity of at least two of the fires where trees were set alight.

"They have been wasting quite a bit of our time."

He said the suspicious activity had put pressure on the fire service's resources, at times when they "were needed elsewhere".

The first of the weekend fires started at 3.10am on Saturday when a rubbish bin, on Evans St, was set alight.

At 8.40am fire crews were called to the Pareora River where a house bus had been set alight. The bus was stolen from Glenmark Holiday Park at 5am that same day.

"The bus was well involved. It was burning from end to end."

A small area of grass surrounding the bus also caught fire.

"Lucky for us it was early in the morning so there was quite a lot of dew around."

The fire service also attended a vegetation fire on Claremont Rd, where a "controlled burn" turned into an "out-of-control" burn.

Mr Parker said it was a reminder to people to take extra care in the increasingly dry conditions.

"If (people) are lighting fires, they need to check the weather beforehand. They need to have a hose or something, standing by, where, if it does get away they can try to control it."

Mr Parker said it was also important people phoned 111 for help, not waste time looking up their local station's number in the phone book, which had been the case in recent weeks.

"Even if it's a false alarm, we'd rather be called (on 111) . . . and find out it wasn't a fire."

The fire service was called out again, at 11.10pm, to a small rubbish fire at Tweedy Park.

It was called to the area again, 30 minutes later, after a cabbage tree was set alight on Glen St.

Mr Parker said teenagers were seen in the area at the time of both late night fires.

"They are wasting our time. Our resources could be used elsewhere."

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Fire crews were called to another vegetation fire, near Harvey Norman, Washdyke, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

"It's quite worrying because this fire was threatening a building," Mr Parker said.

Two appliances attended the scene, where some flax bushes and cabbage trees were on fire.

A house fire on Glenview Tce also kept crews busy yesterday. Three appliances attended the scene.

"There would have been a bit of damage to that because they had to (gain) access into the roof."

Fire crews in other parts of the district were also busy over the weekend.

WEEKEND'S FIRE CALLOUTS

Saturday: Rubbish bin – Evans St House bus – Pareora River Vegetation – Claremont Rd Rubbish – Tweedy Park Vegetation – Glen St
Sunday: Vegetation – near Harvey Norman, SH1 House fire – Glenview Tce Bonfire — Temuka

- © Fairfax NZ News

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