Fires a nuisance but could be dangerous
Wanaka police are still appealing for public help to catch a suspected serial ‘‘fire bug’’ before something burns down.
Wanaka’s public toilet cleaners are also keen to see the fire bug stopped.
Queenstown Lakes District Council contractor Dave Manson, of City Cleaners, said he was concerned about the frequency and the potential for more damage. ‘‘It’s getting pretty tiresome’’.
The mystery fires remain unresolved this week, Sergeant Keith Newell said.
Last week, Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell said four minor, ‘‘nuisance’’ fires had been lit in public toilets since April 5 – the latest last Wednesday – and he suspected the culprit could be on school holiday and might not be a local.
‘‘We are seeking help from the public. Is there someone at their address arriving home later than normal, or possibly smelling of fire? [We] also note that it is the start of the school holidays and that someone visiting the town might be responsible,’’ Grindell said.
Three fires were in the lakefront public toilet on the intersection of McDougall St and Mt Aspiring Rd. The Wanaka Fire Brigade was not required.
The brigade was called to put out three flaming wheelie bins near the Dinosaur Park toilets between 2am and 3am on Tuesday last week.
Manson said total damage from all the incidents was limited to scorch marks on a light fitting, plastic strips on the toilet bowl and near a paper dispenser.
The fire lighter appeared to be setting toilet paper on fire inside the toilet bowls, Manson said. While Grindell said the damage had been ‘‘relatively small nuisance value’’, he was concerned the fire lighting could escalate.
Wanaka fire chief Bruno Galloway said he was concerned. But until contacted by the media, he had not been aware of all the fires.
The brigade had put the wheelie bin fire down to ‘‘just kids and the school holidays’’, Galloway said.
Wanaka last endured serial nuisance fires in the January 2010 school holidays.
More than 10 grass fires were lit in dry conditions and despite an investigation by fire service investigators and police, the culprit was never caught.
Dave Manson of City Cleaners says ‘‘it’s getting pretty tiresome’’ cleaning up after a fire bug setting fires in Wanaka’s public toilets these school holidays. Photo: Marjorie Cook/Fairfax NZ