His­toric build­ing de­mol­ished af­ter three-hour fight

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES KITTO

PO­LICE and fire ser­vices were left “frus­trated” fol­low­ing the ar­rest of two youths near the scene of a fire at an aban­doned Wil­low Court hospi­tal ward.

Ten units from the Tas­ma­nia Fire Ser­vice at­tended the scene of a ma­jor struc­ture fire around 12pm on Thurs­day, as a num­ber of by­s­tanders watched flames rip through the build­ing at the New Nor­folk precinct.

The fire at the for­mer hospi­tal ward known as Glenora House lasted more than three hours as crews worked to ex­tin­guish the blaze.

New Nor­folk Po­lice Sergeant Chris Hey said the ex­ten­sive dam­age forced de­mo­li­tion of the his­toric site.

It was the fifth re­ported blaze at the precinct within two weeks, and the sec­ond blaze at the build­ing within 24 hours, af­ter the TFS ex­tin­guished a small fire at the for­mer hospi­tal ward around 5pm last Wed­nes­day.

Po­lice said in a state­ment re­leased this week a 19-yearold man and a 16-year-old male were both charged with ar­son and bailed to ap­pear in court in Oc­to­ber.

The pair were ar­rested in a carpark a short dis­tance from the blaze at The Av­enue within the Wil­low Court com­plex.

Act­ing Tas­ma­nia Fire Ser­vice Mid­lands Dis­trict Fire Of­fi­cer Matt Lowe said the de­sign of the af­fected build­ing made the blaze quite dif­fi­cult to ex­tin­guish.

“There was a lot of smoke due to the fire reach­ing the ceil­ing cou­pled with the strong winds at the time,” he said.

“Crews have at­tended sev­eral fires in this area in the last few weeks at this build­ing and the ad­join­ing derelict build­ings.”

Mr Lowe said con­tain­ing the fire was frus­trat­ing for at­tend­ing fire­fight­ers.

“It’s very frus­trat­ing putting our peo­ple at risk,” he said.

“A lot of our vol­un­teers left work to be here to ad­dress the fire.

“Not only does it af­fect their safety but their per­sonal lives as well.”

New Nor­folk res­i­dent Ma­ree, who wished to re­main anony­mous, said she phoned triple-0 when she saw smoke ap­pear­ing at her nearby home.

“My neigh­bours pointed out the smoke to me and I thought to my­self ‘Oh my God, not again!’,” she said.

“It’s so sad to think that these old build­ings, which hold so much history, are now no more.”

Sergeant Hey said he was dumb­founded by ar­son­ists’ mo­tives.

“It’s absolutely ridicu­lous for peo­ple to want to de­lib­er­ately start fires,” he said.

“Ar­son­ists don’t know the con­se­quences they can cause. It not only puts other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity in dan­ger but also mem­bers of our emergency ser­vice.

“They don’t think that far ahead, and I don’t know what is go­ing to take to stop them.”

Mr Hey said the two males charged were iden­ti­fied by po­lice fol­low­ing wit­ness re­ports.

Der­went Val­ley Mayor Mar­tyn Evans said the dam­age caused to Wil­low Court, which has been a site of graf­fiti and ar­son in re­cent years, was ex­tremely sad­den­ing.

“This wilful de­struc­tion of a his­toric site is so dis­ap­point­ing for our com­mu­nity,” he said.

“I re­ally feel for the com­mu­nity mem­bers and for those who lived and worked at the precinct in years gone.”


DRA­MATIC SCENES: Tas­ma­nia Fire Ser­vice crews bat­tle the blaze at Glenora House in the Wil­low Court com­plex, above and be­low.


RE­MAINS OF THE DAY: The pile of rub­ble left af­ter the de­mo­li­tion of Glenora House.

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