Abandoned house fire sparks arson fears in the community.
An abandoned property located at 151 Hall Rd Carrum Downs burnt down on Monday the 17th of July. The huge fire threatened the safety of two buildings either side of the home. A veterinary clinic on one side had dogs in the building that had to be evacuated. A swimming school on the other side also had to be evacuated as the large tanks of chlorine on the property could have blown up if the fire reached them.
Detective Senior-Constable Mark Garrett of Frankston CIU said on Tuesday morning that police could not confirm if the blaze was deliberately started and that they would get an arson chemical expert in to check it out.
CFA authorities first arrived at 3:21 pm Monday afternoon to tackle the inferno and brought it under control just before 5 pm.
Police blocked off all oncoming roads towards the scene delaying some traffic for up to 40 minutes.
A state of emergency spread across the road, a day-care centre a few properties down went into full lockdown, children were not allowed outside due to the smoke and parents had to navigate the back streets to reach their children.
The Veterinary Hospital and Swim School were in immediate danger and had to be evacuated.
Nurse Ebony Pollock was working at the time of the fire. All surgery had finished for the day and the only animals that were in the building were two dogs that Ms. Pollock and another nurse had to put into their cars.
Ms. Pollock jokingly remarked that she may have been the last to notice but quickly realised something was wrong when she saw smoke through the front window.
“It was really scary, especially when the fence caught on fire.”
While waiting in their cars for another nurse to come and transport the two dogs to the Seaford Vet Ms. Pollock said
“The smoke was so thick I couldn’t even see the clinic”.
The house, as seen in this google image picture of Dec 2016
was made of weatherboard, most of it was worn and rotten and so naturally the flames spread incredibly quickly.
Both fences either side of the house were affected, however, a strong wind pushed the flames towards the vet, badly damaging their fence and phone/internet lines.
The flames spread so far as one neighbour explained his shock at seeing the power lines cracking and two trees on fire.
Paul Sadler Swimland manager, Sam Holmes said
“We didn’t have kids in the centre, but it was concerning because we have big tanks of liquid chlorine on site which could have exploded”.
A Paul Sadler employee, referencing the chlorine tanks said:
“We were aware that it could cause a problem if the fire had in fact spread to our property, however, the wind was blowing in the other direction which steered flames away from us”.
Ms. Holmes also explained that there was another small fire at the property last Thursday that she was made aware of after the CFA put it out.
Neither the Police or the CFA would comment on the potential relationship between the fires. However, locals are adamant that both were intentionally set.
Neighbours say that the house has been abandoned for at least half a year and that during that time it has been used by a large group of teenagers.
Ms. Pollock said she had called the police on several occasions after hearing people smashing the place up.
“It’s been going on for months, the house had no windows at all and was heavily graffitied”.
Beer bottles could be seen strewn across the property after it had burnt down.
Ms. Pollock believed the youths would enter through an alleyway at the back of the property whilst a couple living across the road said they would park their push bikes in front of the house, disrupting the often-congested traffic.
“They would arrive every day in groups of about ten at a time and hurl bottles at cars”.
The group described as ranging from 12 to 17-year old’s have been a nuisance to the community for quite some time.
Many living in the area have long suspected that graffiti-ing was not the only illegal activity taking place on the property.
Police received numerous complaints leading up to the fires and started catching on to them, which is presumably why someone tried to burn it down last week and made sure it went up in flames on their second attempt.
The event has sparked a profound sense of concern in the community as another well-known abandoned house resides just a few hundred meters away, also on Hall Road.
The house recently featured on the Leader community news. www.heraldsun.com.au/leader
Locals say the house has been abandoned for seven years now and hosts drug dealers and vandals.
However, as it is made of brick, they are not concerned it will burn down.
According to the crime statistics agency crimestatistics.vic.gov
There have been 17 reported arson offenses already this year, which is a 70% increase from last years 10. The highest recorded offenses occurred in 2015 with 24. A figure that could potentially be outdone with just over 5 months until the new year.
Check out some more images of the aftermath below… click to enlarge.