An abandoned house on St Vincent St after its latest fire on Friday night. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

Fire makes empty house ‘dangerous’


An abandoned house on St Vincent St that was the target of another fire on Friday night is “dangerous” and needs to be pulled down, say fire fighters.

The empty wooden house, which has been abandoned for years, is no stranger to fires, having already been set alight about half a dozen times this year. The latest on Friday night attracted a big crowd of on-lookers as fire fighters worked to put it out.

Nelson Fire Brigade’s station officer Dan Bradley says he’s personally responded to three fires but has heard of many more.

“There’s been about half a dozen fires there since I joined the Nelson Fire Brigade and I’ve only been here for about a year.”

Dan says, by the time they got the callout the front of the house was well and truly on fire.

“This has been by far the worst, we could see it as we poked the nose of the fire engine out the door of the station.”

“It was going lickety-split so we didn’t even enter the building, even with a BA [breathing apparatus], it was way too dangerous to send my guys in.”

The house has been boarded up several times but Dan says that doesn’t stop anyone.

“They just break in through the back door, the homeless stay in there over night and light fires on the floor to stay warm and arsonists torch it for fun.”

Dan says that whether Friday’s fire escalated intentionally or unintentionally, it was illegally lit.

“It’s still standing but the inside is pretty much totalled and this keeps happening, council need to do something about it.”

However, the frustration of firefighters being called out to the same building over and over again may be coming to an end, according to Assistant area commander Mike Johns.

“We believe it is now a dangerous building and has been damaged to the extent where it is unsafe and irretrievable, and we will be reporting that to the council.”

Both police and the fire service are investigating the fire but, at this stage, the cause remains undetermined.

“We don’t know who has been in there or what’s happened so we are treating it as suspicious and will continue with the investigation.”