Police charge Maffra man over blaze

Alex Ford

A 45-YEAR-old Maffra man was arrested by Wellington Crime Investigation Unit on Wednesday in relation to the fire at Andersons Removals on Monday morning.

The man has been charged and appeared at the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

A search warrant was executed on a property in Maffra, where police recovered stolen items from the warehouse.

Police said about 30 Andersons Removals and Storage customers had their belongings destroyed in the alleged arson attack.

The company has meanwhile been buoyed by community support.

General manager Rod Verrill said the response from the community had been “overwhelming”, adding it would take a lot of work to get things ship-shape.

All of the company’s records, including for pending and future deliveries, have been destroyed, as have many other important documents.

The often-seen moving trucks were not damaged during the inferno, and the whole team is ready to go, Mr Verrill said.

“We’re still operational,” he said.

“Anyone with existing or future jobs should phone us, so we can get them back in the system.

“We’ve lost all records and details of our clients, and need this information as it becomes available.”

The business had completely changed in 24 hours, Mr Verrill said, but he was amazed at the work of emergency services who responded.

A post by the company on Facebook, where it thanked CFA volunteers and personnel, police and Wellington Shire officers, received a huge response.

“Thank you to all who attended and managed this traumatic event with professionalism and compassion,” it read.

Many people wrote offering support and encouragement, some angry that the fire appeared to have been deliberately lit.

Some people who lost possessions in the blaze have come forward, including one couple who lost furniture valued at an estimated $10,000 and a family heirloom cabinet.

Others spoke of near misses, moving their possessions out in the weeks beforehand.

The fire at the Andersons Removals Maffra headquarters in Malmo St began about 2.15am Monday morning, and quickly engulfed the main office and storage shed.

CFA crews brought the blaze under control by 4.50am, but the fire was still being extinguished later that morning.

People with information are urged to phone Sale police on 5142 2200, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Andersons customers should phone 5147 1184 as soon as possible.