Stawell house fire: police investigate Saturday night blaze

BURNT OUT: The fire damaged property at 9 Kofoed Street, Stawell. Picture: Paul Carracher

BURNT OUT: The fire damaged property at 9 Kofoed Street, Stawell. Picture: Paul Carracher

Stawell police are investigating a house fire that gutted an unoccupied home at 9 Koefed Street at 8.50pm Saturday.

No one was hurt in the blaze at the house, which was not connected to power or gas, but had a history of squatters.

Police Sergeant Bill Alford said four men were seen filming the incident before the Stawell Country Fire Authority Brigade arrived.

“They left before the fire brigade took control of the fire,” he said.

“Police wish these persons to come forwards and assist them in the inquiries into the cause of the fire.”

Sergeant Alford said to call the Stawell police on 5358 8222 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000 with information.

Three Stawell Country Fire Authority Brigade trucks responded to the incident.

District 16 CFA operations officer Ian Morley said the Great Western Brigade were also called in for back up.

“About 20 members of the Stawell brigade responded to the fire,” he said.

“They found a three bedroom weatherboard house fully alight,” he said.

“They did good work using several hoselines and breathing apparatus, the fire was brought under control within the hour.

“The house was extensively damages, probably to the point of being written off.

“There was nobody home and we believe the house was in the process of being disposed of or demolished.”

Mr Morley said the fire was suspicious but a cause was not yet determined.

“CFA investigators, along with police arson and forensic experts, attended the next day and the cause was determined to be suspicious so police are continuing their inquiries,” he sad.

“The firefighters left the scene at about midnight with police overseeing things.”

A woman, 51, who witnessed the fire, but asked not to be named, said there had been a fair few onlookers while the CFA worked to extinguish the blaze.

“The response from the fire crews was really quick and within 10 minutes one crew from Great Western was there,” she said.

“It was pretty intense, the property was well ablaze and residents in the next street could see it.”

The woman also said it was the second time the property had been involved with a fire after a blaze two years ago.

“The owner came three weeks ago to take down the front fence,” she said.

“So if there were frequent squatters at the house i'm sure the owner would have known.”

She also police left the scene, which is fenced off from the front at the front of property, on Sunday.

Mr Morley said the Stawell and Great Western Brigades had responded quickly to the fire.

“There were no problems whatsoever and everything worked well,” he said.

“The weather was one our side with a bit of light rain.”

He said firefighter availability in the evening had required back to arrive from Great Western.

“That time of night, with the personnel at the early stage of the fire, it was the incident controllers prerogative to call extra people,” he said.

“The fire was brought under control within the hour.”

Mr Morley said the house was likely built during the 1960’s or 70’s.

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