Suspicious fires flare in South Australia as state braces for severe heatwave


December 27, 2019 11:03:42

South Australian Police are calling for information following two suspicious fires at an Adelaide primary school and a tyre store in the hills overnight.

Key points:

  • Police labelled a blaze at an Adelaide suburbs primary school overnight as suspicious
  • It follows another suspicious fire at a tyre business in the Adelaide Hills on Thursday
  • The alleged arson attacks come ahead of a severe heatwave passing through South Australia

Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) and police crews were called to Hampstead Primary School in the north-eastern Adelaide suburb of Greenacres about 4:30am this morning after alarms were activated inside one of the school’s buildings.

On arrival, authorities witnessed thick smoke billowing out of one of the school’s main buildings.

The blaze destroyed one building and damaged another before MFS crews were able to bring it under control.

Hampstead Primary teacher Lindey Hopkins said areas affected included the school’s administration area, staff room, sick room and a recreation space where students did yoga and drama.

“After you’ve worked with beautiful children in this school — this will be my 16th year — it’s soul-destroying to see the damage, because you know so much has been destroyed,” she said.

“Laptops for teachers, all the records, all our records for children’s medical needs.

“There’ll be hours and hours for all our admin staff to get all our information that is so vital every day of our children’s school lives back again.”

Ms Hopkins said the impact “would be great” because the admin area kept the rest of the school running.

“I just think it’s despicable. This is a place for children, so why punish children?” she said.

“If you’re got a grudge, don’t take it out on children — they’ve done nothing.”

Despite the damage, Ms Hopkins believed the school’s “resilient” community would rally behind it.

“We have a number of classes that are intensive English-language classes, so our children have come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Africa,” she said.

“So many of these children have already suffered trauma, so this to them has been a wonderful, safe place.

“It is very much a community school.”

In Mount Barker, MFS crews were called to a Knott Street tyre business about 5:50pm yesterday after “thick” plumes of smoke prompted triple zero calls from the public.

The fire, which destroyed the premises, took MFS crews an hour to extinguish and was expected to have caused an estimated $500,000 of damage.

MFS assistant chief fire officer Colin Lindsay said there was “a significant fuel load associated with the presence of tyres” in the facility.

Investigators are assessing both scenes today, but have labelled both fires as suspicious.

Police are calling for information from the public on any suspicious vehicles or persons seen in either the Hampstead Primary School or the Mount Barker tyre store areas.

Heatwave to test crews fighting SA bushfires

The fires were sparked the evening before a “severe to extreme” heatwave began to move across most of South Australia, along with parts of New South Wales and Victoria.

Adelaide is tipped to reach 40 degrees Celsius today, before dropping slightly to 38C on Saturday and Sunday, and then 37C on Monday.

A cool change is tipped to move across the city by Tuesday, December 31 — the forecast high sitting at just 26C.

The heatwave could challenge Country Fire Service volunteers working to contain the Cudlee Creek bushfire, which began during last Friday’s 46C weather.

The bushfire has so far claimed one life and at least 84 homes.









Source link Business News Australia

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