Fire at fruit shop "suspicious"

Up in flames: Casula FruitLand was destroyed by fire over the weekend — the second fire in two months. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

Up in flames: Casula FruitLand was destroyed by fire over the weekend — the second fire in two months. Picture: Jeff de Pasquale

AN arsonist used a stolen van to smash his way into a fruit shop in Casula before setting fire to it over the weekend.

It was the second time that Casula FruitLand, on the Hume Highway at Casula, was destroyed by flames in the past two months.

It was first damaged by fire on April 30 and was due to reopen today.

The shop's owner, who did not wish to be named, said he was very angry about the attack.

"We've put all this work into rebuilding and now it's all for nothing," he said.

"Everything has been destroyed.

"We don't know how much the damage will be; the insurance people are working it out now."

Fire crews were called to the store to battle a blaze at about 5.45am.

Liverpool police Detective Inspector Dean Johnstone said CCTV footage captured a Toyota Hiace van reversing into the front roller door of the shop and a man running inside.

"There was accelerant used to start the fire near where the car came through the roller door and then it spread throughout the shop," Detective Inspector Johnstone said.

He said the van was stolen between 4pm on June 12 and 7am on the June 13 from near a child care centre on Speed Street, Liverpool.

The fruit shop owner said he had no idea who could be behind the attacks.

"I haven't done nothing wrong to anyone.

"I've been working in fruit shops for 45 years and I've never seen anything like this."

He said he had been running his shop in Casula since October and was very sorry that his staff members would be out of work.

"I had four boys and four girls working here and they all have bills to pay.

"We're going to have to put the opening off for a long time now."

NSW Fire and Rescue Superintendent Tom Cooper said the area damaged by the fire was extensive.

"It was the whole front of the shop, its contents and the light shop next door," Superintendent Cooper said.

He said the fire was suspicious and was now a crime scene so he could not comment on the possible cause of the blaze.

Twenty-five firefighters with six trucks took about 30 minutes to put out the blaze.

Liverpool police Inspector Paul Smith said the man captured in the CCTV footage was wearing a hooded jumper so a detailed description was not available.

He said "extensive" heat and smoke damage was caused to the fruit shop, while the light shop next door sustained smoke damage.

Inspector Smith said investigations were continuing, but circumstances surrounding the fire at the fruit shop six weeks ago were quite similar.

"That fire was also suspicious in nature and on the surface it appears they may be linked — particularly due to the short time frame between them.

"The damage caused this time is much more extensive."

Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.

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