A fire allegedly lit by two youths late last night has damaged Richmond businesses PC Systems and Rowan Dron Electrical.
The arson is believed to be started by a 10 and 13-year-old who lit a fire in a rubbish bin leaning against the back of PC Systems.
Rowan Dron, owner of Rowan Dron Electrical says he got a call from the fire brigade around 1am this morning and arrived to find seven fire appliances including the command unit and at least six police officers on site.
“[The fire] has gone through the entire PC Systems building and smoke has gone through our building next door and through our offices.
“We’ve got lots of batteries in there so the smoke is most likely toxic and it’s going to be uninhabitable for a while. There’s a bit of fire damage on the outside but the building next door bore the brunt of it, it’s been fully gutted.”
Rowan says both he and PC Systems have lost all their stock but insurance is onsite and they will know by the end of the day if they able to salvage anything.
“It’s a bit of a knock because when we started it was just me in my house and we’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where we are and establish nice offices so that’s all gonna take a bit of a hit.”
Rowan says it was freedom campers staying in the carpark behind the businesses that alerted police to the fire, allowing them to catch the alleged arsonists almost immediately
“It’s the one time you say kudos to freedom campers,” says Rowan.
Senior Sergeant Stuart Koefoed says the two youths lit the fire behind PC Systems and then went to the Nelson Coachlines depot, also on McGlashen Ave, and attempted to light a fire near a Kiwi Experience before being caught by police.
While for PC Systems and Rowan Dron Electrical the damage has already been done, Rowan says it is nice to know that they’ve been caught and that police, fire and everyone have done their job.
Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Craig Piner says his firefighters got the call at 11.10pm last night and had to force entry into the PC Systems building to fully extinguish the fire, a job that took three and a half hours.
“It looked like a skip bin was on fire straight away, it was really smokey,” says Craig.
“The fire travelled through the roof and some bits have fallen down in the back half of the building and created several separate fires, obviously there is lots of heat and smoke damage.”
The fire brigade recommends businesses avoid stacking wheelie bins and recycling bins against their buildings.