Man accused of arson after fire damages 105-year-old Christchurch mansion

Author
Kurt Bayer, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Jan 2021, 3:57PM
The house which was significantly damaged' by a fire in Christchurch. Photo / George Heard
The house which was significantly damaged' by a fire in Christchurch. Photo / George Heard

Man accused of arson after fire damages 105-year-old Christchurch mansion

Author
Kurt Bayer, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 27 Jan 2021, 3:57PM

A man accused of arson after a fire ripped through a 105-year-old Christchurch mansion has today been remanded in custody.

The 40-year-old man, who has interim name suppression, was arrested and charged with arson after the blaze that investigators said was lit deliberately.

Firefighters were called to the fire at the house on Park Terrace, which borders Hagley Park, at about 1.15am on Sunday.

Property owners Thomas and Laura Mckellow have been left "truly devastated".

The man first appeared at Christchurch District Court on Monday and was remanded in custody until this afternoon.

Judge John Brandts-Giesen granted interim name suppression today so that the man can advise family members of his predicament.

He was remanded in custody to reappear in court on February 11.

The Mckellows told the Herald a family member and some friends were visiting for the weekend but were out at the time of the incident.

"They returned home to find the house in flames," Thomas Mckellow said.

"We are truly devastated by the loss but are just thankful no one was asleep upstairs at the time.

"My wife and I have worked tirelessly to restore the property to its former glory from earthquake damage and this is a real blow to us."

He added: "We would like to thank emergency services for their quick response and efforts to control the fire."

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said while the building was not destroyed, it had suffered "significant damage".

"As the fire escalated, so did our response," he said.

At the height of the blaze, six fire engines battled the flames.

There were no reports of injuries, as nobody was home at the time.

The house, has a rateable value of $2.5 million, is one of only four left in Park Terrace's historic area.

Of the 15 individual buildings that made up the historic area, four remain after the earthquakes.

Emergency services were called to another suspicious fire at about 2.15am today, at an abandoned two-storey home in Fendalton.

Fenz spokesman Andrew Norris said firefighters got to work protecting neighbouring properties. Six fire engines and a command unit were in attendance.

It was extinguished by about 7am and crews were on site damping down hotspots.

He said the house appeared to be abandoned and unoccupied.

The house was designed by the England Brothers and built in the 1920s.

It was completely gutted with only the chimneys left standing.

A fire investigator was on site this morning.