Wednesday, 10 June 2009 - 12:29pm |

Investigation launched after spate of suspicious fires

2 min read

Police in Palmerston North are investigating whether three suspicious fires early this morning (Wednesday, 10 June) are linked to five other blazes on Sunday night and Monday morning.

Around 7.50pm on Sunday a skip was set alight in Skoglund Park causing minor damage. The park is close to Freyberg School which suffered a more substantial fire about 25 minutes later when a tractor shed in the school grounds was set alight. Inside the shed was a vehicle used to transport disabled students which was destroyed.

Around 8.40pm a caretaker's shed at Terrace End School in Ruahine Street was set alight. A fire was then reported on a construction site by the Leisure Plex on Railway Street around 11.30pm. Early Monday morning, around 2.41am there was a hedge fire in Taonui Road, Feilding.

A team of detectives were already investigating these suspected arsons when reports were received at 1am this morning of a fire at a cafe on the Esplanade. An alarm activation and the prompt attendance of fire crews saved this building. Twenty minutes later cardboard was set alight in the yard of a takeaway and dairy on Cook Street destroying the shed, and then at 3.20am there was a fire at the Farmers construction site at the junctions of Church Street and Ashley Street.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan said: "Although at this stage there is no evidential link between the fires, the geography and timing of them is too coincidental, and we would be naive not to investigate them as a whole.

"Fortunately most of the fires have been minor but there has still been some significant financial cost, and the destruction of a vehicle for disabled children is despicable. There is no personal gain to arson it is just a selfish act, but the impact on life and property can be huge."

Police believe that someone must know, or have a suspicion, as to who is starting these fires. The offender or offenders are out late at night and early in the morning and will, without doubt, be smelling of smoke when they return. They are also likely to be talking about the fires.

The nights that fires have occurred are relatively quiet nights in the town so whoever is out and about start them may well have drawn attention to themselves.

Police want to hear from anyone in who was in the areas around the times of the fires who may have noticed someone or a group of people acting suspiciously. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jake Baker at Palmerston North Police on 06 351 3635 or the Crimeline on 0800 0800 808585.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.