Suspicious fire at unoccupied West Coast house

An unoccupied house went up in flames in suspicious circumstances just after midnight yesterday.

A neighbour who initially heard an explosion later looked out to see the older-style Doyle Street house aflame.

The Greymouth and Cobden volunteer brigades were called at 12.05am, and the Brunner brigade was also pressed into action a short time later.

Greymouth fire chief Lee Swinburn said the house was well alight when the first fire crews arrived.

"On arrival, the back half had already collapsed."

At the height of the fire 30 volunteers were on the ground and fought the fire for over three hours.

Mr Swinburn said the back part of the house was a total loss and the rest was gutted.

The brigades were able to contain the fire, which did not affect neighbouring properties.

Electricity was still connected to the house, which backs on to the Blaketown Rugby Club grounds, although it was unoccupied at the time.

Mr Swinburn said there was no clear cause but the fire appeared to be suspicious.

"The call came from a neighbour saying they heard an explosion at the rear of the house and later realised it was on fire."

A fire investigator was due at the scene yesterday. Police were launching their own investigation.

Police said a scene guard had been at the site continuously since the fire.

- Brendon McMahon






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