Arson, fraud charges as police crack 2009 house fire case
RENEWED investigations have led police to allege a 2009 Gympie house fire was the work of insurance fraudsters.
Officers charged four people yesterday with arson and fraud after a tip-off to police late last year sparked new investigations into the cold case.
Police allege the group set fire to the house on old Maryborough Rd in Gympie on May 31, 2009, resulting in a fraudulent insurance claim.
Officers arrested the group yesterday after a "protracted" investigation involving detectives from the Gympie and Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branches.
Gympie CIB Acting Detective Sergeant Ben Rose said all four people may not have directly lit the fire or made the insurance claim, but alleged all four "shared responsibility" for the offences.
A 51-year-old Kybong man and a 46-year-old woman from The Palms have been charged with arson and fraud.
They are due to appear in Gympie Magistrates Court on September 19 and September 26 respectively.
A 49-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman from Maroochydore have been charged with arson and fraud.
They are due to appear in Maroochydore Magistrates Court on September 19.
The Gympie Times' Jannette Parke reports on the fire in 2009:
AN intense blaze in the early hours of Sunday morning left a timber Queenslander on Old Maryborough Road, Tamaree extensively damaged but still standing.
Gympie Fire Station Officer Rob Frey said a neighbour driving by is believed to have dialled 000 at 12.44am.
The fire was attended by three urban and three rural fire units. The building, located in the middle of a large block surrounded by bush, was well involved by the time appliances arrived.
Officer Frey said the high set house appeared to be in the process of renovation, and it is believed to have been vacant at the time of the fire. A padlocked gate had to be forced open to gain access.
"The fire was very intense and fire fighters did extremely well to bring the fire under control as quickly as they did," Officer Frey said. "We could see the glow from about one and half kilometres away."
Police and fire investigators examined the scene to determine the cause of the blaze, but yesterday police said there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances.
Officer Frey reminded residents to take extra care as winter starts - a traditionally busy time for fire fighters as they respond to increased calls for help.
He said families should take particular care with heaters and clothes dryers and ensure all homes are fitted with smoke alarms and that they are in working order.
Emergency services minister Neil Roberts said 41% of the lives lost in structural fires during 2008 happened during the winter months from June to August.