Garage fire 'suspicious'

Balclutha couple Glenn Burns and Giselle Cooper take stock of the damage after a fire destroyed...
Balclutha couple Glenn Burns and Giselle Cooper take stock of the damage after a fire destroyed their Lewin St garage and two vehicles early yesterday morning. PHOTOS: RICHARD DAVISON/SUPPLIED
A Balclutha couple are counting their blessings after a "suspicious'' garage fire destroyed their cars and other property early yesterday morning.

The unexplained blaze quickly took hold of the detached garage at the front of their property, at 18 Lewin St, Balclutha, after it was spotted by a neighbour about 12.30am yesterday.

Shortly afterwards, residents Glenn Burns and Giselle Cooper became aware of a ``bright orange glow'' outside their kitchen window, and called emergency services, only to discover a fire engine had already been dispatched.

Firemen quickly had the blaze under control, although it took a further hour to quell burnt-out timbers, their two family cars, and four cubic metres of firewood which had been stored in the garage.

Mr Burns said although the loss of property was ``a kick in the guts'', nobody had been harmed, and none of their six children were at home during the incident.

``It could have been a lot worse, so although it was pretty scary and we're gutted to lose the cars and other property, we're thankful the house and our families were spared.''

The garage shortly after emergency services were called about 12.30am yesterday.
The garage shortly after emergency services were called about 12.30am yesterday.
Although police were yet to comment on possible causes for the fire, Mr Burns said he believed circumstances surrounding the incident were ``suspicious''.

``There's no power to the garage, and nothing there that would spontaneously combust, so we're wondering exactly how it started.''

``Valuable'' property including bicycles, amplifiers, tools and the recently-bought firewood had been lost in the fire, he said.

``We were just waiting for [the firewood] to dry out a bit. Well, it's pretty dry now.''

Mrs Cooper, a life coach, said although she and Mr Burns had home and contents insurance, at the time of the fire one of the cars had been off the road and was temporarily uninsured.

Both she and her partner were launching new businesses, which would be disrupted as a result.

``More than the financial loss it's the inconvenience that's upsetting. Glenn's just started an online music shop, so we'll both be looking for new cars before anything else.''

Mrs Cooper praised the response from the Balclutha Fire Brigade.

``[The fire] was pretty intense. We just stayed in the house as it was too hot to even get past to the street. We're just so lucky it wasn't really windy, and the fire service was able to bring it under control so quickly.''

Mr Burns said family, friends and neighbours had made generous offers of assistance.

``We've had a lot of people round already. Although the fire's a bit of a worry, it's nice to know there are good people out there during times like these.''

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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