Thurgoona blaze has firies fearing arson attacks in the heat 

THE last thing firefighters need in a week of 40 degree temperatures is an arson attack, they said, after a suspicious fire at a Thurgoona equestrian centre yesterday.

About 50 metres of grass was burnt and a horse jump damaged near Thurgoona Drive at the back of the Albury-Wodonga Equestrian Centre.

North Albury Fire Brigade deputy captain Nigel Semmens said the fire started about 12.30am but a potential disaster was avoided by a quick response from the North Albury and Thurgoona Rural Fire Service brigades and kind weather conditions.

“It could have quite easily spread right through that equestrian centre and if there had've been a north-westerly wind, it could have pushed right through to houses,” Mr Semmens said.

Centre president Bradley Hayden said he was relieved the damage was kept to a minimum.

“The firies did such a great job in getting there promptly and keeping losses to a minimum, so we’re grateful,” Mr Hayden said.

“But it’s disappointing that people feel the need to do that, particularly in our case being a community facility run by volunteers.”

Mr Semmens said the remoteness of the fire, about 200 metres along a bike path from Thurgoona Drive, led to suspicions it was deliberately lit.

“It is a concern really that people can go out and deliberately want to light a fire when the conditions are what they are,” he said.

Albury police Inspector David Cottee said police are investigating and urged anyone who may have seen anything suspicious to contact them.

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