Waipara hotel engulfed in flames

HOTEL FIRE: Smoke spews from a fire at the Waipara Hotel.
HOTEL FIRE: Smoke spews from a fire at the Waipara Hotel.

A North Canterbury hotel badly damaged by a fire this afternoon was uninsured.

Fire fighters were notified of the blaze at the just-sold Waipara Hotel at 2.34pm.

The fire took just under an hour to bring under control.

The country pub was closed, with no-one inside. 

Passer-by Bob Gillard said he was driving through Waipara about 2.40pm when he noticed smoke coming from the roof of the hotel on Waipara Flat Rd, State Highway 7. 

He pulled over and watched as the entire building became engulfed in smoke and flames. 

Two men went around the back of the property to see if anyone was inside. They found and released two dogs, which were in the yard area of the compound and may otherwise have perished, Gillard said. 

Fire fighters and police arrived soon after, as well as a small crowd of onlookers. 

"The roofing iron is all severely burnt," Gillard said while the fire still raged. 

"It's fully engulfed in flames. This is going to be a write-off." 

The hotel, owned by William and Melissa Inia, sold at auction on Friday morning.

It was sold uninsured, and remained uninsured at the time of the fire.

The possession date was set down for July 28.

Bayleys Real Estate agent Peter Harris said the to-be owner, who was from Christchurch, planned to continue running the premises as a hotel. 

Fire Service Canterbury Area Commander David Berry said no-one was inside the hotel when the fire broke out. 

Fire fighters brought the blaze under control about 3.30pm. They would spend a few more hours dampening down and checking hot spots, Berry said.

"There is a fair bit of damage. The main bar has only smoke damage, but the lodgings at the back attached to the hotel are pretty well damaged. The crews worked hard and saved a large percentage of the building."

About 60 per cent of the building was damaged, about 20 per cent severely, he said. 

The roof and floor areas sustained the most damage, Berry said. 

"It's a bit of an historic pub," he said.

The hotel, said to be popular with locals, vineyard workers and truckies, had a log burner, a garden bar, owner's lodgings and 11 accommodation rooms. 

It is the second fire at the hotel in about six and a half years. 

In January 2008, a fire caused by an old freezer overheating caused superficial damage to the kitchen walls and an adjoining room.

The Press