Arson probe after Pro Karts business burns

23:45, Mar 18 2014
Daile Eden
HELPLESS FEELING: Pro Karts owner Nick Fowler outside the building damaged by fire yesterday.

A suspicious fire at Tahunanui beach has gutted a building, but its owner is trying to remain optimistic.

Pro Karts owner Nick Fowler lost about half of his carts to the blaze early yesterday morning, but was grateful firefighters managed to save half his business.

He also runs laser tag at Tahunanui beach; the equipment for it, worth more than $20,000, was in an adjacent building which firefighters worked to save from the flames.

Mr Fowler was alerted to the fire just after midnight.

He said it wasn't until last night that he got a chance to "sit down and reflect on what happened.

"It's not nice, you feel helpless watching it happen in front of you, and you can't do a thing to stop it. It's awful."


The building that was gutted by the fire housed the carts and control and timing gear for them.

The roof was to come off the building today, and then he hoped he would be able to get into the building to see the full extent of the damage.

He said there were 13 carts that were damaged in the blaze. They were mostly his Fun Karts, designed for children to drive, as well as a few of the adult Pro Karts.

He said it was too early to speculate on the financial costs of the blaze.

"I am extremely gutted, but am trying to be optimistic; I'm not going to let it knock me, we have a good business and we will bounce back."

He was full of praise for the fire crew, who worked to save the other building, and get the carts out of the one that was on fire.

If both buildings were torched "we would be broken", he said.

He planned on staying open to provide laser tag. He believed he would have the track reopened within four weeks. He needed to order replacement equipment from Europe.

Specialist fire investigator for Nelson and Marlborough, Craig Piner, said the fire was still under investigation.

He said four trucks attended the blaze, from Nelson and Stoke.

They were alerted to it by a member of the public just after midnight. He said it was suspicious and they had also found burnt-out rubbish bins on the same site. He said there was an issue of access to water at the fire.

Mr Piner was also pleased with the fire crew's efforts. "It was a good save to stop the other building being burnt; the boys did a really good job."