Faulty fitting blamed for Wakatu blaze

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 09:45 04/06/2014
fire at Waterblaster Solutions
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

TEAM EFFORT: Firefighters from Richmond, Stoke, Wakefield and Nelson at a large fire at Waterblaster Solutions and Skippers Choice in the Wakatu Industrial Estate.

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A light fitting that overheated is believed to have caused the devastating fire at premises within Wakatu Industrial Estate last week.

Fire risk management officer Craig Piner said yesterday the fire in the complex that once housed part of the former meatworks was being treated as accidental and not suspicious.

The light fitting was being tested but it appeared it had overheated and ignited the polystyrene sandwich panelling, which had then torn through the remainder of the building.

The fire started in the premises occupied by Waterblaster Solutions, and quickly spread to neighbouring gourmet sauce and dressings firm Skippers Choice. From there it tore through premises within the complex occupied by five other tenants.

Many had only just recovered from the flash floods in April last year, which caused major damage to the building and tenants' businesses.

For German butcher Ulrich Heck, it is the third disaster his business has suffered in just over three years.

His original Christchurch factory was destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake. He relocated to Nelson, but his new premises was badly damaged in last April's flood - and he has now lost them to fire.

Piner said having sprinklers in the building would have made a huge difference to the outcome.

"It would have made all the difference. For that kind of building it's not a requirement, but if it had had them, six tenants would still be in business.

"It's really very sad."

Piner said the building was constructed similar to a coolstore with sandwich panelled walls consisting of two sheets of aluminium with polystyrene sandwiched between.

He said polystyrene was "like petrol" when it burned, which was why the building "went so quickly". It was also highly toxic.

Piner said the building was part of the original meatworks with additions put on over the last decade.

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- The Nelson Mail

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