I dont want to go to Rotorua: Victims of burnt cars at hotel carpark speak out

Chris Alexander has vowed to never visit Rotorua again after his car was destroyed in a suspicious fire outside a Fenton St hotel.

Alexander lent his special edition Holden Commodore to his girlfriend who was heading to Rotorua for a trip with friends.

Now the Commodore is a charred shell after it -and three other cars – were destroyed in a blaze in the carpark at Distinction Hotel’s about 4.30am on Tuesday.

Police say the fire, which started in one of the cars and spread to the others, was suspicious and being investigated.

Alexander, who lives in Auckland, said he knows Rotorua well, having visited several times for work and rally sports.

He said friends living in the area had warned him of issues with homelessness and crime committed by teens coming to the city to cause trouble.

“I don’t want to go to Rotorua and I won’t be going … What’s happening now is what’s concerning me. I know people who live there and they tell me their car isn’t safe on the street. We knew this before she went and I told her to make sure she parked somewhere safe and she did.”

Alexander said his girlfriend was woken by a call from hotel staff at 5.20am and told about the fire.

He had insurance but it still cost money.

“I feel victimised. This has cost me money. I work hard and pay my taxes but no one’s going to be held accountable.”

Hotel guest Manu Caddie, from Gisborne, was attending a Scion conference which started at the hotel yesterday.

He said he was called by hotel staff about 6am and told the news.

The rubber window panel and bumper of his car had melted from the heat.

“It’s not something you see in a hotel carpark. I parked here because I thought it was safe.”

Tim Strabala, of Wellington, had just arrived at the hotel at 10pm on Monday for a quick stopover for the night.

He checked out of the hotel at 10am and walked to the carpark where he made the discovery. Thankfully his car didn’t appear damaged, although it was only 3m from the badly burnt cars.

“It’s a hire car and I have a $3500 excess so I’m feeling pretty lucky right now I guess.”

A Hawke’s Bay man who had been attending an education conference, who didn’t want to be named, said he went down to the carpark at 5.45 am and saw people standing around.

His car had buckling on the side panel as a result of the heat.

“I was surprised. It’s affected a lot of cars and it’s a real bummer.”

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said any crime, whether against visitors or locals, was “unacceptable and unwelcome” and could be traumatic for the victims.

“It’s always disheartening to hear of such incidents, especially when we are working so hard to keep our district moving forward.”

Destination Rotorua chief executive officer Andrew Wilson wasn’t available for comment and Distinction Hotel’s general manager didn’t respond to Rotorua Daily Post requests for comment.

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