$8m: Storage fire's huge cost

Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014
storage blaze
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ
BURNT RUBBLE: Megan Ransom with the charred remains of her belongings after the fire at Kiwi Self Storage.

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Damage and losses from the Kiwi Self Storage fire in Kilbirnie have so far topped $8 million, police say.

The fire on April 4 - believed to be an arson attack - severely damaged a building containing 390 units, and one of the more than 300 victims believes the losses could well rise as many people have yet to tell police what dollar figure they put on their loss.

"I have not filled out any of those forms. It's too exhausting. Where do you start? I've lost everything," Megan Ransom said.

She said there were people worse off than her. "On the day of the fire, standing up on the hill looking down on it, there was a couple turned up who had just moved up from Christchurch and put all their stuff in storage about a few days before and it was all gone."

Ransom was between homes at the time, and lost belongings including tools for her work as a bronze sculptor.

She was not insured. Others thought their belongings were insured but have had claims refused.

"I speak almost on a daily basis to people who had insurance but failed to tell their insurance company that their stuff was in storage," she said.

Kimmoya Lynch signed the lease on a new home three days before the blaze, and lost an estimated $10,000 of personal belongings, including a leather lounge suite and family photos.

Immediately after the fire, Lord of the Rings cinematographer Alex Funke feared he had lost two Oscars, though it turned out the statues were in another unit that survived the fire.

Another victim, who did not want to be named, said her unit was on the ground floor but the ceiling was damaged and ash-laden water and later rain-soaked treasured antiques and family heirlooms. She was shifting house and most of the things had been in storage for only about a week, and a grand piano for just two days. But she had insurance, and said her insurers had been fantastic.

Kiwi Self Storage director Andrew Fraser said 42 affected customers had insurance the company had arranged through NZI.

On the day of the fire, 377 of the 390 units in B block were occupied by 366 customers. Some customers had more than one unit.

The burnt building is being demolished and a replacement is being designed.

Victims subsequently criticised the lack of a sprinkler system in the block.

Fraser said the company was still researching the issue, looking at what was done overseas, and how to balance the risk between fire damage and water damage.

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A Facebook page, Kiwi Inferno Storage, has been set up for victims. Donations can be made here.

- The Dominion Post

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