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Police seek more information on showgrounds fire

Solway Showgrounds manager Sue Tytler at the grandstand that caught fire. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

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Police are calling for information on the suspicious fire at the Solway Showgrounds on November 30, while the showgrounds board are relieved they dodged what could have been an “absolute devastation”.

Police said at around 2am, an unknown person approached the grandstand and main building at the showgrounds and attempted to set them both alight.

“The female toilets attached to the showground’s main building caught fire. Fortunately, as the fire grew the sprinkler system activated and put the fire out, preventing any significant damage from being caused.”

Solway Showgrounds manager Sue Tytler said the showgrounds were something she wanted the whole community to enjoy, and it would have been an “absolute devastation” to Wairarapa if the grandstand was lost.

“I was quite shocked by the whole thing really, and it’s sad to think that someone would try and do that to these beautiful grounds.”

She said the grandstand housed the Saturday Farmer’s Market and the Wairarapa Lions Club who sold books along with the market.

“All of that money goes back to the community. What is held in the grandstand is of such benefit to the whole of Wairarapa”

Tytler said the showgrounds were privately owned and hosted about 100,000 visitors a year.

She said with opening the gates to the public in the past few years, people had been able to come and enjoy the grounds for picnics, walking dogs, and spending time with their families.

“In doing that we have gone out of our way and spent considerable money in security.”

Tytler said installing a sprinkler system had cost huge amounts of money to install years ago, but it had paid off now.

Tytler said the grandstand was used in World War II as a hospital.

“There were great love stories, and sad stories that happened under that grandstand. It has a huge history.”

She said the response from fire brigades, police, and security at the time of the fire was second to none.

“The service they provide is just incredible, they were here within minutes.”

Tytler said the fire brigade came and cleaned up the following morning.

Police said they would like to hear from anyone who might have information about the incident, or who might be able to help identify the offender.

“A person was seen on CCTV entering the toilets around the time of the incident, who is described as slim, wearing a hooded top and a head torch. The person was seen leaving the scene shortly after the fire was lit.”

Police said they would like to speak with this person and were asking for any information from the public, which could assist us in our investigation.

  • Masterton Police have urged anyone with information to contact them, call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, or ring 105 and quote file 211124/3882.

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