An ACT Housing townhouse in Mindarie Street, Narrabundah has been destroyed by a fire that has left neighbouring tenants homeless due to smoke damage.
One Mindarie St resident told RiotACT that the fire, which took hold in the early hours of this morning, was the third on the property in recent months. The first two were at the rear of the property, with one destroying a storage shed, she said, adding that the property had been vacant for some time.
Detective acting sergeant Daniel Shaw from ACT Policing’s criminal investigations unit told RiotACT late this morning that he and his team would be on site for a number of hours while a forensic inspection was underway.
They were working to establish whether or not the fire was suspicious, but were not in a position to establish that when we spoke.
“We can’t tell you. We haven’t had our forensic examination done. It’s only just been inspected by the structural engineer, so we’ve been unable to do anything other than canvas the neighbourhood, which hasn’t revealed anything in particular at this point in time.
“The forensics team will make a determination based on what they can see if anything,” he said. “A lot of times with fires it’s impossible to tell.”
Detective acting sergeant Shaw said the fire brigade provided guidance on how safe it was to access the site to conduct the investigation.
“We rely on the fire brigade and the property manager … in this case it’s Spotless [the ACT Government’s facilities manager for Housing ACT properties].”
The criminal investigations unit’s presence was not necessarily an indication the fire was suspicious. They are generally called in in scenarios where uniformed police officers who respond initially are unable to determine the cause of a fire. In more complex cases, such determinations are beyond their remit, and they may have several other jobs to respond to.
Detective acting sergeant Shaw said police were called to the scene at about 2.50am this morning.
“Police units and a number of fire brigade units arrived, it was well alight when they got here. The firefighters’ efforts concentrated more on saving the adjacent properties, which suffered some smoke and water damage. The property itself you can see has been completely destroyed by fire, so our investigation will centre on determining the cause of the fire and as to whether it’s suspicious or not, but that’s ongoing.”
RiotACT has contacted the office of ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry to find out what steps Housing ACT has taken to provide alternative accommodation for government tenants left homeless due to smoke and water damage to their residences.