Echuca car yard could have become fiery ‘inferno’

By Ivy Jensen

AN ECHUCA car yard was lucky not to become a fiery inferno after an arsonist torched one vehicle and drilled holes in the fuel tanks of five others early Monday.

Two fire crews were called to the blaze at Thompson Holden just after 6am where they found a used Kia Carnival fully engulfed in flames.

Detective Senior Constable Peter Colliver of Echuca Criminal Investigation Unit said CCTV footage showed an unidentified man arriving at the Northern Hwy car yard about 5am.

"He spends the next hour drilling holes in the fuel tanks of several cars before he poured petrol on the Kia and setting it alight," he said.

"There was petrol leaking from the other cars so it could have been an inferno.

"If the petrol was running towards the fire, all the cars would have been ablaze."

Echuca CFA captain Rob Amos said the situation could have been so much worse. 

"It was frantic when we got there. Because there were so many other cars close by the fire could have spread very easily," he said.

"They did a great job doing asset protection to make sure the other cars didn't go up.

"It could have been so much worse for our guys. It could have been a bad situation. They were very lucky."

Crime scene officers from Bendigo were called to investigate the fire which gutted the Kia and damaged the Nissan Pathfinder next to it.

"It's bizarre behaviour," Det. Snr Constable Colliver said.

Thompson Holden general manager Mark Redzepi said he was surprised there wasn’t more damage.

‘‘I don’t know how the other cars didn’t go up. It could have been an explosion,’’ he said.

‘‘The retirement village next door was our major concern. You can replace cars but you can’t replace lives.’’ 

Det. Snr Constable Colliver said police were continuing with inquiries and encouraged anyone who may have seen something to come forward.

He did not believe the blaze was linked to the car fire near the Back Nine Golf Club on Friday.

It is the second car fire in four days and seventh vehicle torched in Echuca-Moama in the past four months.

Anyone with information about the car fire is urged to contact Echuca police on 5482 1500 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.