Arsons a pain for firefighters, neighbours

RACHEL THOMAS AND FLORENCE KERR
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014

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South Waikato firefighters have "had an absolute gutsful" of having to deal with a series of arson attacks on a Tokoroa house.

The Elizabeth Drive house, which is vacant, has been the scene of roughly 11 fires in the last 12 months, Tokoroa chief fire officer Dave Morris said.

"With this particular house, all my guys have had enough. They're starting to take it personally now."

The latest fire was well involved when crews reached the house about 1.30am on Saturday morning, fire communications northern shift manager Jaron Phillips said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined yesterday, but Phillips said a fire investigator had been called.

Morris said a fire at a vacant house at that time of night was "definitely suspicious".

It appeared the fire began in one of the bedrooms, Morris said.

Three appliances from Tokoroa spent close to two hours on Saturday battling the blaze, which Morris said had spread to the inside of the ceiling.

Morris said callouts to this property generally lasted between two and three hours each time.

"Once you have extinguished the fire of course you have to go around dampening down hot spots.

"We just want to say - enough it enough. We've had an absolute gutsful."

The previous fire there was two weeks ago, at 4.30am. It was -4 Celsius outside.

"We're all volunteers and the last thing my guys want to do at that time is get out of a nice warm bed.

"We just see that address come up now and go ‘Not this again'."

A resident on the street who did not want to be name for fear of retaliation said the building's neighbours were also sick of the problem.

"We've had enough. We have some young families around here and their households are being disrupted by the actions of an immature idiot."

The man told the Waikato Times he felt for the neighbours and firefighters and hoped the serial arsonist was caught soon.

"It's becoming a sick joke and it's the poor residents on our street and our volunteer brigade who have to pay the price."

Morris said he planned to approach the South Waikato District Council today and request a demolition order on the property - a move supported by residents.

"Council may have [a demolition order] in place already but it's still worth asking the question."

Morris urged anyone who saw suspicious activity around the property to contact the police.

A Tokoroa woman who last year pleaded not guilty to one charge of arson at the address will go to trial in September.

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- Waikato Times

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