The rector of an Anglican church gutted by fire in Sydney’s inner west yesterday believes he knows who started the blaze and it has given a suspect “shortlist” to police.
Reverend Dave Smith said he believed a disgruntled youth was likely to be behind the fire, which destroyed a celebrated parish hall adjoining his Holy Trinity Church in Herbert St, Dulwich Hill.
The blaze broke out about 3:45am and demolished the structure, used as a youth drop-in center and boxing “fighting club” for many years.
“I think it’s probably some disgruntled kid in the area – you can’t run a facility like this without someone getting pissed at you,” said Reverend Smith, who lives across the road and watched as the blaze unfolded.
“It’s a community facility that people have been using for a lot of years, it’s been a youth drop-in center. I mean there are hundreds of people who use it so it’s a real slap in the face.”
Asked weather he has passed any names of suspects to authorities, he said: “It’s quite possible – I’ve got a shortlist. Things like this don’t just happen by themselves.” He praised the work of emergency services, including the fire brigade and police, who rushed to the scene within minutes of thiple-0 calls being places.
“The dog was barking like crazy and there was a flash of light and I got up and opened the door and got hit by the heat from across the road.” He said.
The Fire was contained to the building and did not spread to a home next door where six people were sleeping.
The historic hall was built in the 1870s and was recently used by Reverenced Smith for a charity event that broke a world record for most continuous boxing rounds.
During the event the 50-year-old “fighting father” took on 66 opponents, including Anthony Mundine, to complete 120 three-minute rounds. The officer in charge of the investigation, Marrickville detective Russell Newitt, had previously assisted Reverend Smith with a number of church investigations, so he was optimistic the case was off to a good start he said.
Article by Yoni Bashan.