New tavern manager uncertain of future after fire

A suspicious fire at Nelson's Rising Sun Tavern today has devastated its new manager who was to start running the Nelson pub this week.

"This is my future," manager Catherine Flutey said this morning while surveying the damaged pub on Waimea Rd.

Mrs Flutey said the tavern had been sold and her boss was to have taken it over on Thursday.

She had moved most of her possessions into the accommodation upstairs and this morning was waiting to find out if they had been damaged.

"All my trinkets, all my treasures, all my photos, pots and pans, they are all up there," Mrs Flutey said.

The alarm was raised at about 12.45am today and 25 firefighters from five engines from Nelson, Stoke and Richmond were at the scene.

Nelson senior station officer Richard Lovering said the fire was in the back corner of a room, possibly a staff bathroom, and went up the wall into the floor above and the ceiling.

Firefighters ripped roofing iron off to cut off the fire in the ceiling space.

The pub itself was undamaged but would not be able to be used until the electricity was sorted out, he said.

The pub was closed when the fire broke out.

Firefighters had it under control in an hour but were there for more than four hours ensuring that any hotspots in the timber building were dampened.

A police spokeswoman said this morning that police and fire officers were investigating the cause and origin of the fire, but early indications were that it was suspicious.

The police would like to hear from anyone who has any information about the incident.

Mrs Flutey said she found out about the fire in a text from a friend on the West Coast at 6am this morning, and "just bolted" to the tavern.

She had moved to Nelson three weeks ago from Christchurch, to get away from all the "s---- down there".

Mrs Flutey said she had applied for 12 jobs when the new Christchurch-based owner of the tavern, whom she knew, contacted her and asked her to manage the pub.

Ironically her ex-husband had St Vincent St's the Globe Hotel, which was also damaged by a fire on April 7, believed to have started by a faulty chiller.

She said she only had her heavy items and clothes left to move into the tavern.

Mrs Flutey had been moving her possessions in over four days.

She had made up the empty bedrooms in the tavern and got them all set up. "I was going to have people over at Christmas time."

This morning she was not allowed into the pub to see what had been damaged. She said she was particularly worried about her wedding photos.

Mrs Flutey said she felt physically sick this morning and was unsure what would happen after the fire and whether the pub would be saved and she would still

have a job. She was glad her husband Trevor had not left his job as a truck driver.

She had planned to spend the night at the tavern last night.

"But thank god I was stuffed and I couldn't be bothered moving."

The old owners had moved out most of their possessions.

Carmel Court owner Shayne Pickering, whose motel is across the road, said the first thing he heard was a man yelling out: "Is anybody in there?" and banging on the door.

He said most of the fire was at the back of the tavern.

The Nelson Mail