Police hunt for serial arsonist

By SAMANTHA HEALY

LOCAL detectives have stepped up the hunt for a serial arsonist who torched several properties in the Tweed Heads CBD. The arsonist is believed to have ignited four fires in 20-minute frenzy in the early hours last Saturday morning. The first of the blazes erupted at Lynch and Co Accounting in Beryl Street about 5.40am and caused significant damage to the rear of the business. From there, police officers spotted smoke coming from two other nearby properties. Two industrial bins behind the Supre store in Wharf Street caused external damage to the building however detectives say the building could have easily gone up in smoke. Around the corner in Boyd Street two more fires were started - one causing minor damage to external doors of the Masonic Centre while one property down, a detached garage was completely destroyed. The state's top arson specialists arrived in the Tweed yesterday to assist detectives examine the crime scenes. We have a serial arsonist,' Detective Josh Burton told the Daily News yesterday. ?We are treating the fires as linked and have been canvassing the area for any new information. The arson team investigate this type of thing every day and have specialist skills. They only look at serial offenders.' Detectives are also keeping an ?open mind' with regards to two house fires in Bilambil Heights which occurred several hours later. Most fires we can account for,' Det Burton said. We do get spates of bushfires that are arson but this is, well, the first time since I've been here that we've had a spate of property fires.' Detectives are following a number of leads but are asking anyone in the community with information to come forward. We may be looking for a single offender, but then again, there may be others,' Det Burton. I would say he, or she, may have some knowledge of the area. Samples taken from each of the crime scenes have been sent for further testing to determine if an accelerant was used. Swabs have also been sent for DNA testing. We don't just rely on these tests. We'd like to hear from anyone in the community who may have seen someone in the vicinity at the time of the fires,' Det Burton said. The State Crime Command's Property Crime Squad arson team will be in the Tweed for two days and detectives will prepare a brief for the Coroner. Anyone with information that could help police is urged to contact Tweed Heads Police on (07)5536 0999 or call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.



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