BURNT OUT: The loading bay behind the Commonwealth Bank was set alight on Wednesday night, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage and closing businesses yesterday.
BURNT OUT: The loading bay behind the Commonwealth Bank was set alight on Wednesday night, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage and closing businesses yesterday. Trevor Veale

Arsonists damage Coffs businesses

LOCAL business owner Ian Hogbin says a fire that caused more than $50,000 worth of damage to local businesses on Wednesday night could have been avoided.

About 7.50pm in the loading bay behind the Commonwealth Bank in Harbour Drive, vandals set alight two red Coffs Harbour City Council bins and two large hessian bags containing cardbord for recycling with disastrous results.

While firefighters were on the scene within minutes, the fire was so intense it damaged the roof lining of the loading bay and the electrical cables within, as well as burning the aluminium cladding in the roof.

A Country Energy spokesperson said yesterday crews responded immediately when the call came in and turned power off to the buildings to ensure the safety of those in the area.

“The fire did not cause any damage to Country Energy’s electricity network and power supplies were not interrupted to any other residents,” the spokesperson said.

The Commonwealth Bank, Rivers Superstore and clothing store Too Nice were all closed yesterday while the Country Energy crews worked to have the power restored to the building.

Mr Hogbin, who owns the HQB Building diagonally behind the Commonwealth Bank, said the garbage-cluttered laneway is a playground for vandals.

“Something has to be done to stop the ease with which low-lives can vandalise the building like this,” Mr Hogbin said.

“We need a better system for garbage in the alley. We’ve completely barred our building with security fencing for this very reason.

“I’d like to see Coffs Harbour City Council do come up with a strategy – whether we have big lock-up bins strategically placed down the laneway or owners are required over a five year period to find a way to safely secure their rubbish, something has to be done.”

Anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area should contact Coffs Harbour Police on 6652 0299 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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