The council has issued an emergency order to the owner of the former St John’s orphanage, following three fires in two weeks.
It’s the second such order issued to John Ferrara. It came after two fires ripped through the historic Mundy St property on Thursday and Friday nights.
Friday’s dramatic blaze gutted the 1912 building’s western section and sent walls crashing. On Thursday the outbreak was mainly confined to the eastern area and rear. But it compounded damage from another fire at the orphanage exactly one year ago and increased danger for firefighters.
Police believed the blazes were deliberately lit. Detective Inspector Chad Gillies said police had processed the crime scene and were interviewing witnesses.
“We are not ruling out links with a fire at the same premises on October 17. There are obviously repeated incidents there,” he said.
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Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward. On Saturday a police forensic team and NSW Fire and Rescue investigation unit was on scene
Inspector Rob Post said officers were pursuing several leads offered by the community.
On Friday police and fire authorities voiced concerns about the building’s safety.
On Saturday the council acted, issuing an emergency order to Mr Ferrara to render the site safe and secure as a first step, Mayor Bob Kirk confirmed.
“I understand everyone’s concerns that the place is a risk,” he said.
The building’s future will partly depend on the outcome of structural reports.
Up to 100 personnel from NSW Fire and Rescue and the Rural Fire Service fought the blazes across two nights. In both cases aerial appliances proved critical in dousing flames.
Thursday’s outbreak started shortly after 5pm on the second level and was extinguished by 10.20pm. Crews fought flames from the outside due to falling internal timbers.
Friday’s blaze started just after 9pm in a western section and quickly engulfed the building. Some 35 Fire and Rescue NSW were assisted by eight crew from the ACT and an aerial appliance. They finally extinguished the inferno at about 2am.