Woman arrested after fires at hotel

Firefighters, hotel guests and staff wait outside the Leviathan Hotel in central Dunedin after three fires were started in the first floor lounge yesterday morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Firefighters, hotel guests and staff wait outside the Leviathan Hotel in central Dunedin after three fires were started in the first floor lounge yesterday morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Police have arrested a woman who allegedly started several fires in a Dunedin hotel.

Detective Sergeant Dylan Ross, of Dunedin, said the 35-year-old was arrested yesterday afternoon after an incident about 8am the same day in which fires were allegedly lit in the Leviathan Hotel.

She will appear in the Dunedin District Court today charged with arson.

Firefighters swarmed the hotel after a staff member discovered three fires and raised the alarm.

Senior Station Officer Rob Torrance, of Dunedin City Station, said the fires were lit on furniture and a printer in the first-floor lounge.

The hotel's sprinkler system meant occupants were not at risk, but it would have been ''distressing'' waking up to a smoke-logged hotel, Mr Torrance said.

The fires generated ''a hell of a lot of smoke'' which had spread from the first to the second floor.

Four fire appliances attended and crews wearing breathing apparatus quickly extinguished the fires.

Staff and guests were evacuated from the hotel and several were interviewed by police, before Criminal Investigation Branch officers and Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff conducted a scene examination.

A guest said he smelled smoke but did not see flames as he descended the hotel's staircase.

The fires were discovered by a staff member, he said. There were no injuries, he added.

While a printer and a couch had been destroyed in the fire, the hotel was otherwise undamaged and remained fully open for bookings.

-By Vaughan Elder

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