Second fire in two years hits Wonthaggi backyard

By Mitch Guy

A FIRE that destroyed a backyard shed in Merrin Crescent, Wonthaggi in the early hours of Thursday morning is being treated as suspicious. The same property was targeted two years ago.
The first incident was during a spate of four deliberately lit fires in the area on Saturday, April 25, 2015, which sparked fears in the town of a firebug on the loose at the time.
The shed at the rear of Brian and Virginia Wheeler’s property was rebuilt after the first incident and the latest fire destroyed the new shed.
The backyard is accessed via a laneway, with a gate on the boundary of the property.
Emergency services were called to the scene at approximately 3.20am after a neighbour raised the alarm, with three fire trucks from Wonthaggi and one from Inverloch extinguishing the fire and containing the blaze.
The fire destroyed a camper trailer with an array of camping gear, fishing gear, solar panels, batteries, a camp fridge and more.
The shed was also filled with their son Jeremy’s possessions while he moves house, which included a queen size bed, a bicycle, sound system, electric guitar, computer, PlayStation, Xbox, DVD players and a surf ski.
Bass Coast CIU is investigating the crime and is treating the blaze as suspicious.
A CFA Fire Scene Investigator attended the property on Thursday and surveyed the scene.
Detective Senior Constable Paul Burns did not completely rule out the possibility that the incident may be linked to the fires in 2015.
“We’ll keep it in consideration but nothing suggests it is,” Burns said.
“It will be part of our enquiries to look at that as well.”
Fortunately, the Wheelers are insured for damage and there were no mementos stored in the shed.
But the family is still incredibly shocked by the second unexplained fire to hit their shed in two years.
“I’m stunned. I think I did nothing but swear for an hour,” Brian said.
“What I’m doing next is once this gets cleared up, I’m blocking off the back lane completely, no more back exits. I just want to make sure no one can get in because I’m bloody sure it didn’t start on its own.
“It’s wired for electricity and there’s a power point in a corner, but nothing was plugged in.
“If it started on its own I’d be buggered to know how. We had no petrol in there and the gas tanks on the trailer didn’t catch fire.
“When we had the fire bugs two years ago, we had a lot of older people in the town who were scared and you think more about people than property, but this time I’m really pissed off.
“A decent metal shed like that, you don’t expect it to go up. There’s nothing anybody can do but it’s going to be another big clean-up.
“If anybody saw or heard anything, let the police know, because I’ve got no bloody idea.”
Wonthaggi Police would like to hear from anyone who may know anything about the fire, or saw suspicious people hanging around the area at the time.
Call Wonthaggi Police on 5671 4100 if you have any information.