Police investigate Oberon Abattoir fire

A HUGE blaze that ripped through the Oberon Abattoir early yesterday morning has been deemed to be suspicious, and police have called for help from the public.

The blaze broke out in the abattoir’s main building just before 3am, and firefighters arrived to find much of the main building, and a gas main, well alight.

Fire and Rescue NSW’s Fire Investigation and Research Unit was on the scene yesterday, along with Sheba the labrador, who is trained to detect ignitable liquids.

Qualified firefighter Tim Garrett said Sheba had already been involved in 700 fire investigations, and her experienced nose was at work within the burnt-out building yesterday.

He would not confirm if ignitable liquids had been found, but did confirm that is what Sheba was trained to find.

NSW Rural Fire Service fire investigator Michael Spira worked alongside the forensic services group yesterday to determine the fire’s cause and origin.

“We’ve got an area we suspect is the origin ... we’re focusing on an area we believe was the intense part,” he said.

Chifley local area command detective Bob Newman called on any members of the public who may have taken photos of the fire to submit them to police.

“We’ve got an area we suspect is the origin ... we’re focusing on an area we believe was the intense part.”

Michael Spira

He confirmed police were treating the fire as suspicious and investigations into the blaze are continuing.

“There has been some suspicious stuff found,” he said.

He confirmed police were also looking at triple-0 call records as a line of inquiry.

Mr Spira was unable to confirm how many points of origin the fire appeared to have, but said it was an intense blaze.

“The ceiling structure and the walls are insulated with styrene; it’s caused quite an intense fire, but it always leaves a burn pattern,” he said.

The fire’s burn pattern is just one element investigators were assessing yesterday in the burnt-out building.

Mr Spira said a number of samples had been taken from the building. Until these results were received, he could not confirm if an accelerant had been used in the fire’s ignition.

The abattoir can process more than 300 animals a day, but Mr Spira confirmed no animals were in the main building when it caught alight in the early hours yesterday.

When Oberon Abattoir reopened in February this year, manager Andrew McLeod told Fairfax Media that it would employ around 45 people and would process lambs, goats, deer and cattle.