EXTRA police resources have been deployed to a Tamworth suburb after at least three suspicious house fires broke out within 24 hours.
As detectives continue to investigate fires in four homes in the West Tamworth area, a 17-year-old boy will front court next month over his alleged involvement in two of the incidents.
Firefighters were called to four house fires in the area between Monday and Tuesday morning.
Police have confirmed at least three of the four fires were deliberately lit.
A Family and Community Services spokesperson said three of those homes were government-owned.
The city’s crime manager, Chief Inspector Phil O’Reilly, told The Leader additional police resources would be deployed to the area, with a wave of other arson attacks also under investigation.
"Each of those properties were vacant at the time of the fires,” he said.
Additional resources have been tasked to the West Tamworth area as a result of the fires.Crime manager, Chief Inspector Phil O'Reilly
“Additional resources have been tasked to the West Tamworth area as a result of the fires.
“A number of other fires in garbage bins and vacant land are also being investigated.
“It is a serious offence to light fires which endanger lives.
“In the current weather conditions, the risk of fires spreading is high and we ask if anyone has information to assist investigators to contact Tamworth police or Crime Stoppers.”
As inquiries continue, a West Tamworth resident of 25 years has said crime in the Coledale area was the worst she has seen in 25 years.
Marion Larkin woke to find a neighbouring home well alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“I woke up to hear a popping noise, I thought it was my car, I looked outside my window and saw it (the fire), and called the fire brigade,” she said.
“I’ve lived here for 25 years, I raised my two boys from here. It’s only in the last five years that I’ve noticed how bad it is.”
Ms Larkin said she believed those responsible are young people aged between 10 to 16-years-old.
“To be honest, they need to be responsible, and if they aren’t held responsible at that time of night, they should be,” she said.
“They should be home in bed, they range from anywhere from 10 to 16 and their parents should be held responsible.
“I grew up in an age where you had respect for your elders and for other people. There is no discipline now. But the police are doing what they can.”
The first of four fires broke out at a Kenny Drive home about 3am on Monday morning.
Officials said the vacant home was "boarded up” with damage to the back room of the house where the fire was believed to have started.
Hours later, at 2pm, they were called to a house fire on Cole Road where it is understood a mattress was alight.
About 3am on Tuesday, crews were called to a Bourne Street house where the front of a vacant home was engulfed in flames.
At 9am they were called to another fire at Sussex St where they attended to a fire lit at the back of another vacant home.
Fire officials said they were working with police on the issue after a busy start to the year.
"There has been a lot of fires over there that are believed to be suspicious, and we have been working with police to come to some solution,” Tamworth Fire and Rescue commander Superintendent Tom Cooper said.
“If anyone sees anyone acting suspiciously at the scene of these fires we urge them to contact police. We would rather not have to go to fires that are caused by people up to no good."
Three public housing properties damaged
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has confirmed three of its homes were damaged by fire in an alleged vandalism spree in West Tamworth this week.
With four fires in the area within 24 hours, a spokesperson confirmed the three fires at homes on Cole Road, Sussex Street and Bourne Street were public housing properties.
“Two of the FACS properties are tenanted but they were not home at the time,” the spokesperson said.
“The other FACS property was vacant and being re-let.
“When fires occur in FACS-owned properties, arrangements are made to assist affected residents ensuring they have alternative accommodation arrangements, including offering them temporary housing assistance.”
The spokesperson said the department had 1700 public housing properties in the Tamworth Local Government Area.
“FACS is working with Police, who are investigating the fires, to assess the extent of the damage and determine the works required to refurbish the properties,” the spokesperson said.