Arson claim after Lavington business ruined

AN Albury man says his business has folded after a Lavington fire on Tuesday night that police say was deliberately lit.

Brent Pearsall said about $200,000 worth of damage was caused when a fire was lit and about 8.45pm on his block of land in Livermore Street that borders the old Apco service station on Urana Road.

The blaze burnt barely a hectare of grass on the empty block, but it destroyed 11 boat models, 35 moulds, furniture and other equipment that Mr Pearsall was preparing to use for a new fibreglass business.

“It puts us out of business completely,” Mr Pearsall said.

“They’re all gone, every single item. It was a contrived, carefully set fire.

“And it leaves us nothing.

“We have to face the fact it’s over.”

Inspector David Cottee said the fire was deliberately lit —a tin of petrol was found nearby.

Police are seeking witnesses or information.

Steve Ford, who bought the old service station from Mr Pearsall last month, heard a bang but thought nothing of it when he left the property with his wife Vicki that night.

Within half an hour the couple spotted thick, black plumes of smoke coming from the property from their nearby home and returned in a panic.

“We thought we might have left something on,” Mr Ford said.

Mr Ford, who plans to re-open the service station and attached takeaway shop, said the only thing that stood between the old service station and the fire was grass that he had cut shortly before he took over.

“If we had have left our grass, it would’ve gone straight to the fuel tanks,” he said.

“It was the only thing that saved our property from getting burnt.”

This is not the first occasion for Mr Pearsall to say that he was the victim of a deliberate arson attack.

He said that about five years ago, his business was one of several affected by a suspicious blaze in East Albury.

That mystery remains unsolved and he expected Tuesday’s fire to have the same result.

“I was born in this town and I’ve lived here for generations,” he said.

“There is no real control over the population in Albury and there’s no punishment for people to rectify that.”

He said he didn’t understand why he was targeted.

But while his business has gone up in smoke, he said he would press ahead with redeveloping his land for retirement homes or units.

“You shrug your shoulders and get on with it,” Mr Pearsall said.

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