SOUTH East firefighters are hoping arsonists who deliberately started fires are arrested and feel the full weight of the law following another string of suspicious house fires in Nangwarry.
Country Fire Service volunteers from Tarpeena, Kalangadoo, Penola and Nangwarry were called to the property on Ritchie Street just after midnight on Sunday morning.
Firefighters arrived swiftly and were able to extinguish the blaze before it could fully engulf the house, but a car was destroyed at the rear of the property.
“Our crews did an outstanding job to contain the fire within a couple of minutes to limit the damage on the house,” Wattle Range CFS group officer Fred Stent said.
Unfortunately for the fire crews, their efforts were in vain because just 24 hours later another fire was lit at the property and the home could not be saved.
“Crews were called back at around the same time in the early hours of Monday morning, however this time the fire was fully involved,” Mr Stent said.
“This fire started in the centre of the property, which gives an even stronger indication it was deliberate.”
A witness, who wished to remain unnamed, told The Border Watch there were some disputes occurring in the town and people may be “out to get each other”.
“I think people probably know who it is lighting the fires, but no-one is letting on,” they said.
Mr Stent said fortunately the tenant of the house was in Mount Gambier on Saturday evening and decided to stay in the city.
“I have been told that this was one of the first nights she had left the home,” Mr Stent said.
“The house was too damaged to stay the following evening, so she was not there when the second fire was lit either.”
Fire cause investigators attended the home on two occasions to examine the circumstances surrounding both fires.
Limestone Coast Police officer in charge Superintendent Grant Moyle said investigators were yet to inform him whether they had identified the cause of the fire.
“We are treating it as suspicious until we hear otherwise,” Supt Moyle said.
“We would be more than happy to hear from members of the Nangwarry community who might have any information.”
He said it appeared the incidents were not random.
A shed on the property was affected by a fire last month when a deliberately lit blaze spread from a shed on the adjoining block.
It is also the eighth fire on the street in the past three years.
Mr Stent said the number of fires in the town was extremely disappointing.
“It has a major impact on our recruitment and retainment of firefighters because they do not want to be fighting fires that are deliberately lit,” he said.
“Every time that pager goes off we have less people attending because we have lost them and we have not been gaining any more in a hurry.”
He added the fires were always a risk to the community’s safety and health.
“Most of the fires in Nangwarry involve asbestos and on the first occasion we had a big crowd watching we had to ask to move on because the smoke was blowing straight in their direction,” Mr Stent said.
“People also come up to me and say they do not feel safe in the town any more and it seems if you are out of town or not at home, your place is a prime target.”