House fire 'can't be an accident': Barney Point owner

What we know:

  •  Police believe the fire was deliberately lit and an arsonist is on the loose
  •  Police found a candle and accelerant at the burnt out house
  •  The fire was lit some time after 7pm

FREDERICK NEISH said it would not take Einstein to work out his house on O'Connell St at Barney Point was deliberately set alight on Monday night.

"There's no one living in it. There's no power connected. There's no other way," Mr Neish said.

"It can't be an accident."

Police have backed up Mr Neish's suspicions after forensic officers found traces of an accelerant and a candle inside the asbestos riddled house.

Detective Senior Sergeant Luke Peachey said because the house had been vacant for more than a year police "believe this has been a deliberate attempt to set this house on fire".

It is understood the man-hole cover in the ceiling was missing and a window had been left open.

Mr Neish said he did not know where the man-hole cover was located in his house and could not remember if it was missing the last time he visited the house in February.

Nathan Counsel, who lives next door to Mr Neish's house, said he had not seen anyone squatting in the house.

Det. Snr Sgt Peachey urged anyone who may have seen people squatting in the house or seen hanging around the house from 7pm onwards on Monday night to contact Crime Stoppers or Gladstone police.

In what appears to be a case of terrible timing Mr Neish, who lives in northern New South Wales, had just finished renovating his house after a previous tenant damaged the property.

"I've spent more than $30,000 on doing it up…I was up there in February when Carpet Court finished putting the new carpet in," Mr Neish said.

"Why did this have to happen now?

"It's disappointing but I don't know if I'm shocked or more fed up," he said.


>>Man feared for home in 'suspicious' Gladstone fire

>> WATCH | 'Suspicious container' found at Barney Pt house fire

Mr Neish said he had spent the $30,000 on putting in new walls, carpet, bench tops, a glass top stove and new vanities in order to make the house more appealing to potential renters.

"We want to get to the bottom of it," he said.

"It's early days and will come down to motivation.

"I'll come up to see the house once police advise me to," he said.

In a stroke of good fortune Mr Neish has been told that he will be covered by his insurance despite not having a tenant in the house at the time.

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