Fire threatens children

Fire crews attended two vehicle fires – one threatened a nearby child care centre.
Fire crews attended two vehicle fires – one threatened a nearby child care centre.

Several car fires and reports of squatters at the abandoned Range View Tavern in Eden Hill over the past month have angered residents and propelled the Town of Bassendean to request more action from the private owners.

Department of Fire and Emergency (DFES) services confirmed two car fires had been attended in the past month, both having caused scrub fires and one temporarily shutting down a child care centre, according to nearby resident John Holmes.

‘That fire (on the 12th) was much closer to the child care centre and the wind was blowing smoke onto it, so they turned the airconditioners off and evacuated the building to get rid of the smoke,’ Mr Holmes said.

Mr Holmes said one of the homeless men living at the abandoned site was living in a Lockridge unit block severely damaged after a gas explosion and subsequent fire in early November on Braithwaite Street.

‘I talked to one after the red car got burnt; he was displaced from the housing commission flat which had an explosion in it, in Braithwaite Street Lockridge.’

‘There’s an underlying issue here. Whether rent is too high or whether we’re not building enough houses for them, I don’t know; the result of it is there is a large amount of people homeless.’

Bassendean Mayor John Gangell described the abandoned site as disgraceful and echoed residents’ frustrations at the time it had taken developers to demolish the property.

‘Ever since the former owners of the Eden Hill tavern moved out, the site has gradually deteriorated and up to a condition where it’s now a haven for drug dealers, squatters, people who want to go in and cause anti-social behaviour like burning cars and the like,’ Cr Gangell said.

‘I completely feel for the residents in the surrounding area because the condition that site is currently in is nothing but disgraceful; the Town has been in constant contact with the owners and developers.’

Cr Gangell said the Town had been made aware of the car fires at the block but had not known about squatters in the area until last week.

‘We were contacted by residents with concerns; initially I’ve been informed when there was a car burnt at the site and so from that point forth the Town had been in contact with the owners and developers.’

A DFES representative said the two car fires amounted to more than $20,000 damage, and at least one was being treated as suspicious.

DFES confirmed a homeless person was found at the scene on January 12 and an ambulance was called.