The owner of the old St John’s orphanage says he’s lost for words over the latest fire.
“I’ve lost all feeling. I don’t know what to say anymore,” John Ferrara told The Post.
A third blaze in a year engulfed the main building at about 6pm Thursday.
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Police confirmed they were treating the fire as suspicious and have not ruled out links with an October 17 outbreak in a rear hall at the Mundy St complex. they are appealing for information from the public.
Mr Ferrara said he didn’t attend the scene when he found out about the latest fire. Nor could he bring himself to do so on Friday.
“There was no power or gas connected to the building so someone has done these on purpose,” he said.
“I’m sure the detectives will get to the bottom of it.”
He rejected public criticism that the dilapidated building was an open invitation to vandals. The gates were closed and there was a two-metre fence around the premises, he said.
Asked about the public safety risk Mr Ferrara said: “Anyone who goes in there is out of their mind.”
The Goulburn airport owner bought St John’s in about 2003. He has lodged several development applications for residential development around the perimeter and within the orphanage to the council. The projects did not materialise and more recently Mr Ferrara applied for a subdivision on which to build 11 units.
“Up until Thursday, that’s what I was going to do,” he said.
“But now it depends on what a structural engineer says.”
But he said he did not want to bulldoze the structure.
“I bought the building because I loved it, not because I want to demolish it. I lived there for a good amount of time,” he said.
“I have no intention of demolishing it and never will.”
NSW Fire and Rescue Southern Highlands Commander Bruce Fitzpatrick said the October 17 outbreak had compounded the safety risk for anyone entering the building. Firefighters fought the second storey blaze from outside, given inaccessability and potential for structural collapse.