Sixteen years of nurture went up in flames last week when an unknown arsonist set a homeowner’s hedge alight.
Brae Street couple Michael and Julie Bayes’ leisurely evening meal turned into a firefighting session at about 8pm on Thursday in an effort to save their garden and home from the flames.
It came a day before the Rural Fire Service declared a total fire ban in Inverell due to a ‘very high’ fire rating. The crew called to the home came fresh from fighting a large blaze near Pine Ridge Road.
Police confirmed that the Brae Street fire had been deliberately lit, most likely with the use of lighter fluid. The arsonist/s have not been identified and investigations are continuing.
“I’m stuck for words, I don’t really know what to say. Why would you do it?” Mr Bayes said.
“They don’t even get to stay and watch it, they can’t hang around - they’ve got to take off. I’m just bewildered by it, really. It could have burnt the house down.”
He wondered if the arsonist/s were aware how dangerous their actions were in the hot weather. The Bayes’ home wasn’t the only one under threat, with their neighbour joining in the fight to keep his own garden safe.
“My neighbour next door was really good. He called the fire brigade and also got the hose and dribbled on the fence onto it. With quick thinking, some neighbours who were walking past jumped the fence and got the hose going, so it was a community thing to put it out,” Mr Bayes said.
The Castlewellan Gold hedge was a labour of love for the couple, grown over a period of 16 years to provide an attractive privacy screen for their front yard. In 30 minutes, half of the hedge was gone.
Costing hundreds of dollars, six trees are completely destroyed, with another noticeably scorched. If the wind had changed or the neighbours were away, Mr Bayes said the damage could have been much more extensive.
Mr Bayes hopes that the perpetrator/s will rethink their actions, and encourages anyone with information about the incident to contact local police on 6722 0599.
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