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House fire sparks arson investigation

Police are investigating a suspicious fire on Masterton’s Renall St as a case of arson after an abandoned house was ravaged by a blaze yesterday morning.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand [Fenz] was alerted to the incident at 2.15am yesterday and said the fire was “well involved” when crews arrived.

Seven appliances from Masterton, Carterton, Greytown, and Remutaka were called to the house fire, alongside two support vehicles.

Multiple calls about the blaze were received, while many Masterton residents reported clouds of smoke billowing over the town and being able to smell the fire as far north as Lansdowne.

It is understood the property – which had been boarded up with plywood and left empty for several years – is owned by local iwi Rangitāne as part of its 2017 Te Tiriti o Waitangi settlement.

Fenz Masterton’s Richard King said there was no threat to other properties nearby due to the distance between structures but that the surrounding grass was on fire when he arrived.

It took a “good couple of hours” to get the blaze under control as the fire had entered the roof space, part of which had started to collapse.

King said because one of the priorities was to keep crew safe, they battled the fire with water.

A Fenz fire investigator was called to scene and will work with police.

At about 1.30pm, the remains of the structure were demolished.

This will be the third arson investigation in Wairarapa in the past four months.

A home on was destroyed by fire on the night of November 17 or early hours of November 18.

A second home was badly damaged after a fire on December 2 at Fabians Rd in Morison Bush and had to later be bulldozed.

Both of these investigations are still ongoing, and a police spokesperson said they are not currently being investigated as linked.

Tū Mai Rā Investments, established to receive and manage Te Tiriti settlement assets on behalf of Rangitāne, has been approached for comment but did not respond by print time.

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