Vagrants linked to blaze at tyre shop

'We've had vagrants living out the back'

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 06/09/2012
The fire broke out in the rear of AH Franks Tyres, on Anglesea St, just before 5am.
PETER DRURY Zoom
The fire broke out in the rear of AH Franks Tyres, on Anglesea St, just before 5am.
Jim Nolen
CHRIS HILCOCK/Fairfax NZ
SUSPICIOUS FIRE: AH Franks Tyres owner Jim Nolen stands in front of where a fire started at the back of his Anglesea St property in Hamilton early yesterday.

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Vagrants are being investigated in connection with a blaze at a Hamilton tyre shop early yesterday.

Six fire engines went to the blaze at A H Franks Tyres, on Anglesea St, about 5am.

A H Franks owner Jim Nolen said that while the cause of the fire was still being investigated, he suspected vagrants, who had been sleeping at the rear of the property for the past few weeks, had played a part.

"We've had vagrants living out the back.

"They were starting to make a mess and using the back as a toilet.

"They had a mattress there and they stored it behind a compressor and arranged some tyres and pallets so they could sleep.

"But they don't really care where they defecate either," Mr Nolen said.

Staff first noticed the group about two weeks ago but as they were not doing any harm, they left them alone.

However, last week staff noticed the excrement and decided to put the mattress and bags of belongings in the business' skip bin and lock it.

"But then they broke into it and took [the belongings/mattress] out. It's pure conjecture, but that's what it appears."

Mr Nolen was relieved an 800-litre waste oil container was emptied on Friday otherwise the fire could have been much worse.

The part of the property affected by the fire was "all to do with stuff that's not relevant to running our business".

Waikato fire safety officer Kevin Holmes said smoke alarms saved the building from being completely gutted, as they prompted a quick response from firefighters.

However, Mr Holmes said, the fire should also sound a warning to other business owners about storing rubbish bins too close to their buildings.

"If they have waste bins they should keep them locked and clear of buildings."

A trolley full of pallets on another Anglesea St property was set fire to on August 26.

Anglesea St, between Bryce and London streets, was closed for about an hour yesterday as loose sheets of the A H Franks building's roofing iron were secured, disrupting bus travel.

Waikato Regional Council compliance and education manager Rob Dragten also praised Hamilton City Council staff for preventing any oil or residues getting into the stormwater system as a result of the fire. A specially equipped truck was brought in to extract the waste.

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- Waikato Times

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