Couch to house fire was inevitable

A house fire in North Dunedin was inevitable, and it was lucky – this time – that there were no deaths. Police noticed the fire and woke and evacuated sleeping residents.

ODT: House fire caused by burning couch

Raucous couch-burning party-goers in Dunedin have accidentally set a house on fire during their partying, police say.

Officers were called to a large party on Castle Street at midnight, where several hundred party-goers at two houses were spilling on to the road.

While containing the crowd, attending officers saw a fire at the back of a different house, and found the flames from a burning couch had spread to the home’s weatherboards.

Police said the occupants were woken and evacuated, and the officers attempted to extinguish the flames before the fire service arrived to put the fire out.

It had begun to take hold within the exterior wall just as it was extinguished, police said. There was damage to the weatherboards.

Inspector Kelvin Lloyd said that it was very lucky that the fire did not cause more damage than it did.

“This incident highlighted the dangers associated with the fire lighting issue in the student area,” he said.

“This is exactly the type of case we have been trying to prevent through the consistent and on-going messaging of police, fire and the university.”

“We need to stop thinking that this is part of the culture of the area, and accept the very real dangers that this type of offending poses. This is more than high spirited antics and will result in a tragedy or injury if attitudes do not change. “

This was an escalation waiting to happen. Unless some way is found to stop the arson in the student area this will probably end up with a tragedy.

Anyone caught committing arson needs to be dealt with severely.

UPDATE: in this News Hub report a fire person says that the couch looks like it was up against the house when set alight.

Witnesses sought after couch burning spreads to house

“Mixing alcohol and fires is a recipe for disaster”.

Non-students causing Otago problems

Past ‘student’ riots in Dunedin are known to have been in part at least stoke up by non-student troublemakers, and not all of them were from Dunedin.

Out of 12 arrests so far this year only 2 have been Otago students.

Newshub reports: Non-students causing problems during Otago Uni orientation

Otago University campus police are generally happy with the behaviour of students during orientation week and say outsiders are causing the issues.

There have been more arrests in Dunedin overnight, with orientation week well underway.

Four people were arrested after couches were set alight on Castle St, where around 150 students were partying.

Police say only two students are among the 12 arrests they’ve made since Saturday night, and they’re seeing a growing number of non-students in the area.

“Unfortunately it is a time of the year where the students can get a little bit out of control, but generally they’ve been very well-behaved this year,” says John Woodhouse, campus constable for Otago University.

There’s about 20,000 students at Otago, with about 4,000 First Year. Most are from out of town. That’s a huge influx into a city or about 120,000 (I’m not sure if that is with or without students).

A number of problems were caused by non-students joining in, including high school students, unemployed people and people coming from outside Dunedin specifically for orientation week.

Non-students who like to party, and a minority non-students who like to cause trouble.

A 16-year-old was arrested over the weekend after allegedly threatening another man with a craft knife.

Unlikely he was going to university.

Generally there’s little sign of trouble and a lot of sign of an injection of vibrancy.

Dunedin is quiet after Christmas as a lot students go home or elsewhere to work for the summer, and many residents go on holiday.

It slowly gets busier through January, and goes up a gear as school starts back around the end of the month.

Soon after that the buzz builds as the uni students gradually return, and by now the city is at it’s busiest as the new academic year kicks off.

So far 0.01% of the students have been arrested.