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Neighbours unnerved after arson

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

The fire that destroyed a house in Featherston on Sunday is being treated as a suspected arson.

The house on Wallace St had been abandoned for about three years, although there were unconfirmed reports of people squatting at the residence.

Fire chief Colin McKenna said there was no power being supplied to the building when the fire started, and the investigation had identified the starting point of the blaze.

“We are certainly saying we can see where the fire started.

“It began in what was the kitchen, and was lit in two places.”

When the fire crew arrived they could only contain the blaze and dampen down the embers.

The house was not salvageable, Mr McKenna said.

“It’s what I would call ‘gutted’, it doesn’t look good at all.”

A nearby neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was an unnerving feeling to have an event like this happen so close to home.

“It’s definitely a bit unsettling to have it happen on your street.

“There are kids in the area and I would hate to think what could have happened if someone had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

It would be comforting when police identified the culprits, the neighbour said.

“I have seen people around that house before but I don’t think anyone lives there.

“Once we know that the people responsible have been dealt with then I will be able to relax.

“We’ve been told it is a one-off situation and that we shouldn’t worry, but how do you not?”

Featherston ward councillor Colin Olds said it was an isolated incident, and there was no need to be concerned just yet.

“I think that is definitely the case – we’re all perturbed by what happened but I’m not overly concerned at this stage. There are idiots out there that do this sort of thing.”

The council was unaware of the dreadful state of the house prior to the fire, he said.

“Someone said the council was informed of the derelict state of the property, but I certainly wasn’t and we would have acted had we known.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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