Neighbours relieved cafe fire was contained

SANDRA CROSBIE
Last updated 12:00 17/01/2014

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Owners of neighbouring businesses to Feilding's Sage Restaurant and Cafe, which was gutted by fire this week, are feeling thankful their shops did not suffer the same fate.

The Manchester St cafe was destroyed by fire about 1am on Wednesday, with some neighbouring stores also having heat and smoke damage.

Kidleywinks 2 Tweens owner Tracey Dais, whose shop is next to Sage, said she felt emotional the day after the fire when the reality of it hit her.

She said she was also overwhelmed by the kindness people in the town had shown her.

While her shop appeared to have been unscathed , assessors were concerned about the safety of the dividing wall, which was starting to bow, and upstairs, which was black from smoke.

"I am fortunate I am in business in Feilding and it is a small town," said Mrs Dais. "Family, friends and good customers have been helping me with cleaning and moving stock out of the shop."

A vacant shop in Fergusson St was quickly offered for Mrs Dais to use until the situation with her Manchester St shop is resolved.

"I need to carry on and keep trading, so I expect to be open again by the end of the week."

Mrs Dais said it was a shock to see the impact of the fire, which she was told about during the night.

"The fire crews, customers and other business owners have been great, I can't thank them enough."

Feeling even more thankful is Andrea Clarke, owner of Children's Wardrobe, another neighbouring business of Sage. Her building doesn't share the same roof cavity and was saved from any smoke entering the building.

She was able to open for business as usual the day of the fire.

The tenant of the upstairs residential flat damaged by the fire, Daryl Richardson, was feeling more reflective having escaped the flat unscathed with his daughter Brooke.

Now the pair are on the search for new accommodation and are staying in a workmate's home for a few days. They hope to find something more permanent in the next few days, or they will be renting a room at a nearby hotel.

Mr Richardson said his daughter was tired after the ordeal but he had tried to keep her positive.

"I think it was more of a shock going back into the flat afterwards and seeing the damage and realising there is only one way out. She keeps thinking about what may have happened if I hadn't been there to wake her up."

When new accommodation is found, the shift would be challenging as everything needed to been cleaned before going into a new place, he said.

Some things will not be salvageable, such as a couch and chair. "The TV is buggered, so is the stereo and home theatre system. It will take a while - but that's OK. It could have been a lot worse."

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Police said investigations were continuing to establish the cause of the fire. Detective Constable Jane Borrie said detectives and fire safety officers were working together and still had further people to talk to.

"Hopefully in a couple of days we will be able to ascertain the cause of the fire."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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