Free pile destroyed in blaze

Dunedin police are investigating two suspicious fires, one of which destroyed property in Waitati yesterday morning.

Fire destroyed the Waitati bus shelter and the contents of the nearby Free Pile - a pile of donated clothing, toys and other items people in need can take.

The Waitati Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to the blaze on the corner of SH1 and Waitati Rd about 5am, but it was too late to save the bus shelter. Waitati community volunteer Tony Bishop said the Free Pile initiative was established about five years ago, and there had been ''a spontaneous eruption of goodwill'' in the community.

''It takes a pretty disturbed mind to do this.

''It's a very visual display of someone's hatred for the community.

''Everyone who knows the Free Pile, knows it's a symbol of community.''

Despite the fire, Mr Bishop had set up an old suitcase next to the ashes of the bus shelter and established a new Free Pile.

The fire is being treated as suspicious by Dunedin police who are also investigating another suspicious fire in Beach St, Port Chalmers, about 10 minutes earlier.

Rubbish was set alight in a skip next to the Port Chalmers Fire Station. The fire was quickly extinguished.

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