Rental hopes go up in smoke
DONNA Donaghue blames squatters for the alleged arson of her $130,000 Rockhampton property yesterday.
The 40-year-old restaurant owner said the Kent Street rental home, which was ablaze about 9am, was regularly broken into by transients.
"We have squatters in the place every couple of days,'' she said, as she watched firefighters hose down the remains of her property.
"I boarded up the windows and doors.''
Tenants had been evicted sev- eral weeks ago as they had owed more than 13 weeks of rent.
The power had also been shut down in the residence, but she said this did not deter squatters.
"The police should have arrested them for trespassing,'' she said.
"The police just gave them a slap on the wrist.''
Despite her claims, Plain Clothes Constable Bronagh Gillespie said police regularly patrolled the area and had made arrests as recently as last Saturday.
"We have had many calls to that addresss,'' she said. "We have used powers to move on squatters.''
When firefighters arrived at the scene yesterday nobody was inside the building.
"Smoke was coming out of the windows,'' fire station manager Trevor Kidd said as he cleaned up after the fire.
"The house went alight shortly after we arrived, it's completely gutted inside.''
Firefighters had the blaze un- der control within a half hour of their arrival, but Ms Donaghue said it was still too late.
"The house is ruined,'' she said. We still have to pay a mortgage for a home that is not there anymore.''
She also said the house was "under-insured''.