Blaze destroys Windmill Road grandstand
A blaze that gutted a grandstand in central Auckland appears to have been deliberately lit.
Fire crews battled the large fire, which engulfed the grandstand of a tennis and netball court complex in Mt Eden’s Windmill Rd, on Sunday afternoon.
About five fire crews rushed to the scene at about 2.15 pm on Sunday and worked to prevent it from spreading after it reached the pavilion’s clubroom.
A fire communications spokeswoman said about 2.55pm that the fire was contained.
Black smoke could be seen billowing over the suburb.
Police and the Fire Service have launched an investigation, which found that the fire was deliberately lit.
It appeared to have started at a small shed within the grandstand.
A majority of the clubroom and the building itself were saved but the grandstand was completely destroyed, fire investigator Linda McHugh said.
The netball courts were reopened in 2012 after being sparingly used for six years.
The courts were the home of Auckland Netball from 1932 to 2006 and it reopened the courts after moving to St Johns.
Cindy, a resident who lives opposite the courts was inside her house with her sister when they heard the sirens.
‘‘My sister jumped up and ran out because she thought her car was being towed away.
‘‘It was only when we got to the road that we saw the fire trucks and black smoke that we realised there was a fire - right across from our home,’’ she said.
Her sister usually parks her car right outside the courts, but on Sunday she parked opposite.
‘‘Our neighbour’s car was parked next to the courts so we called him out to get his car out of there in case the fire got really bad.’’
Another Mt Eden resident Erc Andreakis said the courts were popular with children and youths during the summer months.
‘‘It’s always open so people can just walk in and use it anytime.
‘‘There are also usually youths that hang out outside the courts and drink, only because the toilet at the court is always open.’’
Fire crews were lucky there was minimal wind on Sunday, which stopped the blaze from spreading further, McHugh said.
McHugh encouraged anyone who was in the area at the time, and saw any suspicious behaviour, to contact police.
Fire ripped through a building at the Windmill Road tennis courts in Mt Eden.