Car fires at refugee home in Fairy Meadow believed an act of arson

A suspicious blaze has destroyed two cars that were the hard-won property of a Fairy Meadow family of refugees.

The fire took hold in the front car park of a block of units on residential Rann Street about 3am Monday. 

It claimed a car owned by 26-year-old Togolese refugee Veronique Akakpo-a, then spread to the neighbouring vehicle, owned by her father Olabire.

The pair rushed from their upstairs apartment but were too late to save their property.

“We both worked hard for the cars. We use them every day for work and for school.” - Veronique Akakpo-a

“We are lucky that no one was injured,” Ms Akakpo-a said. 

“But my family is upset. 

“We both worked hard for the cars.

“We use them every day for work and for school.” 

The family spoke no English when they left their troubled West African nation for Australia, in 2010.

It was difficult to get a job, but Ms Akakpo-a worked hard at her language studies and was employed by an aged care home.

It took her two years to save for her car, a 2001 Mazda 626. 

Her father saved his wages from an area recycling plant. The company has since dissolved, leaving him unemployed. 

Ms Akakpo-a said her family was involved in no conflicts in their new home, and she could think of no reason why someone would destroy their property.

Father and daughter sat outside the property late Monday morning and looked on as the ruined cars were dragged, one-by-one, across the concrete and onto the back of a tow-truck.

As the fire raged, they had raced door-to-door to wake their neighbours, who moved their cars before the blaze could spread any further. 

Emergency services arrive at the blaze, early Monday. Picture: supplied

Emergency services arrive at the blaze, early Monday. Picture: supplied

The cars were well alight by the time firefighters and police arrived. 

Both cars were insured and the family is in talks with their insurer.

Wollongong Police regard the fire as suspicious.

Duty officer Inspector Mark Walker said police inquiries into the matter were continuing. 

“We believe these fires may have been deliberately lit,” he said. 

Police have canvassed the neighbourhood for clues to the identity of the firestarter’s identity. 

Anyone with information that could aid the police investigation is asked to contact Wollongong Police Station or Crime Stoppers - 1800 333 000. 

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