Fears arsonist on the loose

There is concern an arsonist could be on the loose in Matata after a spate of fires in the area.

A derelict house next to Matata Public School on Pollen St was deliberately set alight twice in three days, said Whakatane Fire Service fire risk management officer Jon Rewi.

Mr Rewi said the Fire Service was called to the house in the early hours of Sunday to put out a blaze, managing to save most of the house. About 6.30am yesterday they were called to a new fire at the same house, which he said had sat empty for about five years.

Mr Rewi said on both occasions the cause of the fire was the same and both fires were obviously deliberately lit.

He said there had been other suspicious fires in the area, which police were investigating.

"We are very concerned and need to work to try and get to the end of it," he said.

On Monday morning the Taneatua Volunteer Fire Brigade had spent most of its morning putting out a fire in a hay barn, which started at about 5am on a White Pine Bush Rd farm. Mr Rewi said the cause of that fire was not known, but it was most likely caused by hot dry conditions.

No one was injured in the fires.


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