DELIBERATELY lit fires wrecked two cars and damaged a third in Hastings early Saturday morning.
The cars were torched within two hours of each other, although police have been unable to link the crimes.
In the first blaze a Toyota Camry station wagon was burnt out on a nature strip in Villawood Drive, Hastings.
Heat from the burning vehicle seriously damaged a Land Rover Discovery that was parked alongside the Camry.
Detective Leading Senior Constable Nick Sweetman, of Hastings CIU, said the owner of the Discovery, a volunteer Hastings CFA firefighter, was awakened by his pager calling him to the station.
“He probably minimised the damage by using his garden hose on the blaze,” Detective Sweetman said.
Police believe a piece of cloth poked into the Camry’s petrol tank was used as a wick to start the fire.
The CFA was called to the blaze at about 3.25am and responded with two tankers from Hastings and one from Bittern.
Less than two hours later the alarm went off again, this time in response to a car burning in the car park of Kings Creek Hotel near Hodgins Rd.
Detective Sweetman said a 1999 Holden Caprice was destroyed in the blaze.
He said the car had been stolen from outside a mechanic’s repair shop in Frankston-Flinders Rd, Hastings, between 5pm on Friday night and the time it was found alight.
Detective Sweetman said the keys for the unlocked car had been tucked under the driver’s sunvisor.
“I suspect the mechanic may have some explaining to do to the owner, a Bittern man,” Detective Sweetman said.
“I don’t know why the car was abandoned in the hotel car park and I don’t believe it’s related to a spate of car thefts and torchings earlier this year.”
Detective Sweetman said police at Frankston had arrested and charged several people who had been stealing cars on a “nightly basis” and torching them at various places, including Carrum Downs, Frankston and Devilbend Reserve near Moorooduc.
“We don’t know if these two fires in Hastings on Saturday are related or just a coincidence,” he said.
Anyone with information can call Hastings detectives on 5979 7850 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.