Livelihood destroyed after fire ravaged Whakatāne main street

Fire investigators and police examine the scene of a fire on The Strand in Whakatāne.

Troy Baker / WhakatÄ ?? ne beacon

Fire investigators and police examine the scene of a fire on The Strand in Whakatāne.

Whakatāne’s businesses are “devastated” after a large fire ravages the buildings on the main street.

Firefighters were called into action in downtown The Strand at 12:43 a.m. on Monday, a fire and emergency spokesperson said.

A third alarm was sounded for more resources, and 12 fire trucks and more than 40 firefighters from Eastern Bay and the Bay of Plenty at large were at the scene.

The fire was said to have been the result of a ram raid and was under control at 4:30 a.m.

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A store of operations in St John was completely destroyed by the fire.

Troy Baker / WhakatÄ ?? ne beacon

A store of operations in St John was completely destroyed by the fire.

The teams were still on the scene at 7.20 a.m., cushioning the hot spots.

Police and fire investigators were on the scene later Monday morning and investigations were underway to determine the circumstances of the fire.

Whakatāne Fire Chief Ken Clark said the person responsible for the blaze had ruined people’s livelihoods.

“And at this time of year … my god,” he said. “You have to really feel for these people. “

Whakatāne Deputy Fire Chief Malcom Rowson said extinguishing the blaze was a long-term job and firefighters had struggled to access the building due to the size of the blaze.

They tried to enter the building through Epic Escape, but the top of the stairs had burned down.

Teams arrived inside the St John’s operations store, but had to evacuate before the roof collapsed.

Rowson said the blaze had to be fought primarily from outside the building, which took longer.

St John’s store manager Robyn Wilson said the blaze had been devastating, especially for the volunteers who gave hours of hard work to make the operation a success.

Wilson said the store is stocked for Christmas and is doing incredibly well. She hoped to find a new building as soon as possible.

The owners of Epic Escape said in a social media post that they were devastated by the thoughtless actions of those involved.

“We spent 3 years putting our heart and soul into building this business, and in less than 30 minutes, it was all gone. “

Whakatāne Mayor Judy Turner said the blaze was the last thing the business community needed.

She said five businesses had been damaged, on both floors of the building.

“Small and medium-sized businesses have paid the highest price for the Covid-19 lockdown. It’s sad to see them go extinct again.

“The community will do everything they can to help, but we have to let the officials do their job. “

Turner said the fire started at the back of the building and that was where most of the damage was.

The rear of the building remained black and charred, while only smoke damage was visible through the front windows.

Turner said the district had suffered from the ram raids and that she hoped they would stop.

A ram raid in Kawerau in October left a huge hole in the community, she said, after a 46-year-old butcher’s shop and rams caught fire.

The building was destroyed and the butcher’s shop was unlikely to reopen due to the damage.

– With the Whakatāne tag

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