POLICE have launched an investigation after the third suspicious fire in a fortnight destroyed units at a Coledale block in Tamworth.
Tamworth Fire and Rescue NSW crews were first called to Green Street to extinguish a laundry fire started in unit 3 in November.
On December 3, neighbours made a flood of calls to emergency services after smoke billowed from the apartment block.
On that day, unit 3 was ablaze again and was completely gutted after a fire started in the bedroom, Tamworth Fire and Rescue Superintendent Tom Cooper said.
"That was the second crack they had at it and it was badly damaged, due to asbestos it was unsafe to go back there so it's been handed to the police and classed as suspicious," he said.
"Yesterday it was on again, at about 10 minutes to four, we got a call to the same block of units and this time two units were severely destroyed by fire.
"We believe it's been deliberately lit."
Fortunately, the residents of the unit block had been forced to leave after the second fire exposed friable asbestos, so the building was unoccupied at the time.
Dry conditions have caused very high fire danger conditions in Tamworth, and Superintendent Cooper said it was lucky the blaze didn't get out of control.
"Any fire that gets out of control and escapes could be conducive to the conditions," he said.
"Because of the large vacant block next door with dead grass, it could have sparked a running grass fire and caused all sorts of drama with this wind.
"If it is the case the fire has been deliberately lit, the people who entered that site have exposed themselves to asbestos."
On Tuesday, Oxley police confirmed the fire was being treated as suspicious with investigations revealing it was deliberately lit.
Detectives are investigating whether it is linked to two suspicious housefires in Green Street in the past few weeks.
Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone who may have noticed suspicious activity in the street on Monday afternoon.
Anyone who may have information about the blazes is urged to contact Tamworth police station on 6768 2999 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.