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Clubrooms nearly set ablaze

Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
Pupuke Clubrooms

CLOSE CALL: Mike Stanley, president of the North Shore Rowing Club, says fireworks lit by a clubroom doorway could have caused ‘‘catastrophic’’ damage.

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Children playing with fireworks almost cost the North Shore Rowing Club its Lake Pupuke clubrooms.

But former representative rower and club president Mike Stanley, says an eagle-eyed passer-by called 111 when they saw the fire on January 7.

"Someone from the adjacent canoe club noticed some smoke and called the fire brigade," he says.

Fire officer Mark Neville says two engines from the Birkenhead and Takapuna brigades attended the incident which was quickly brought under control.

Firefighters had to smash a first-floor window to get access to a ground-level boat storage room where they discovered a small fire, he says.

A group of teenagers accidentally started the blaze after they set off fireworks in the alcove of a side door, says Mr Neville.

Mr Stanley, who rushed down to the clubrooms after hearing about the fire, says modified fireworks covered with a bucket had been placed in the alcove to produce a "bigger bang".

Unfortunately sparks from the crackers flew under the doorway setting fire to cloths that were covering boats worth more than $100,000, he says.

Luckily, the club's most expensive skiffs were away being used at Lake Karapiro for lead-up training to the New Zealand club championships.

"It could have been catastrophic, we're very thankful we're not rebuilding the clubrooms," says Mr Stanley.

The cost of replacing the 40-year-old building that plays host to hundreds of club members including current New Zealand reps Bobby Kells and Finn Howard would be more than $1 million, he says.

Police have treated the incident "very seriously" and gave the group of teenagers involved a "talking to", says Mr Neville.

The incident highlights the dangers of playing with fireworks, he says.

"The message is it's no longer acceptable to light fireworks outside of the season or next to buildings."

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- North Shore Times

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