Fire devastates family

By MORGAN TAIT


The suspected arson of three Hawke's Bay sheds has broken the heart of a woman who lost priceless family photos and her teenage son's prized piano.

Alamaine Hooper was alerted to the burning sheds by her Gordon Rd, Raureka neighbours on Monday night, but it was too late to save the contents.

"The firefighters said they could see it from the station," she said. "Everything is gone, it's just gutted inside."

Two of the sheds were empty carports, but the third was a storage shed filled with furniture, photos, clothing, camping gear, tools, bedding and the family heirlooms of Ms Hooper, her three children and partner Darrin Crombie.

"We had kept things like pictures from when the kids were young, and when my parents passed away we had kept things that can't be replaced," Ms Hooper said. "It breaks my heart.

"We don't know who did it or why it was done. It was just personal things that can't be replaced, that didn't mean anything to anyone but us."

Her 15-year-old son, Trent, lost his piano, which he practiced on daily.

"My son was so upset because he's in an orchestra at school and the piano he practices on we have had since he was young," she said. "We probably would have got it when he was about two."

Trent said he was angry the instrument and sheets of his music had been destroyed.

"There's some at school we can use during lunch and interval, but I'm angry about mine," the teen said.

The property backed onto a retirement village and was shared by tenants with young children who could easily have been injured in the blaze shortly before 8pm.

"How could somebody have done this? Didn't they realise someone could have been hurt? My immediate concerns were for the elderly people at the back and someone could have got really hurt, and I hope they find who did this," Ms Hooper said.

Two fire appliances from the Hastings station with eight crew members spent two hours making sure the fire was extinguished, and today investigators were searching for clues in the debris.

Hastings Police CIB Detective Robbie Parker said they were looking to the public for information about the blaze.

"There are no leads at this stage," he said. "We know where it started, but not how it started. If anybody has seen any suspicious activity around the Gordon Rd area between 7pm and 8pm they should absolutely report it to us and we will follow it up."

The owner of the sheds and adjacent retail and residential building, who wanted to be known only as Maree, said she had owned the premises for about a year.

"I was upset to find that the property had been damaged but the tenants, a lot of their property was destroyed in the shed so they're probably more distressed than me," she said.

"It's all pretty scorched and melted. There is no power going out to the shed so it couldn't have been started by an electric fault."

Do you know anything about the fire? Call Hawke's Bay Police on 06 8730 500 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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