Arthur's Pass B&B devastated in blaze

Last updated 11:59 26/05/2014

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An Arthur's Pass couple have lost their home and business after a fire ripped through their lovingly-restored villa.

Geoff Keey and Renee Habluetzel's bed and breakfast in Arthur's Pass was severely damaged in a fire yesterday morning.

A Fire Service spokeswoman said firefighters from Arthur's Pass, Springfield and Sheffield volunteer brigades were called to the blaze at 4.07am.

The fire on School Tce was "fully involved" when they arrived, the spokeswoman said.

It was not considered suspicious and no one was injured.

"Obviously we're feeling very upset. It's been a terrible loss. We're just grateful no one was hurt," Keey said.

He and Habluetzel were not home when the fire happened and were now staying with family in Christchurch, but planned to head back to Arthur's Pass soon.

The couple had lived in the alpine village for about three-and-a-half years and had been "overwhelmed" by the support they had received from their community since the fire.

"The support from people has been really amazing. It's a really little community, whenever there's trouble everybody rallies and everybody's just been amazing."

Keey also praised the local volunteer fire brigade, who were still looking after the house and helping retrieve items where possible.

"Without them, we'd have lost absolutely everything. People do really need to thank their local volunteer fire brigade."

Keey said the cause of the fire and the future of the B&B was now up to their insurers to determine.

"It's bad. We'll know what the situation is in time," he said.

"We're very passionate about [the B&B] so we want to get it back up and running. We'll find a way to do that, I'm sure."

A Givealittle fundraising page set up by friends yesterday had raised more than $2500 for their couple by noon today.

The page said Keey and Habluetzel had been "living their dream" in their Arthur's Pass home.

"They've put heart and soul into restoring it, bit by bit. But this weekend, a fire ripped through the roof, destroying much of their belongings."

The couple were passionate about environmental and climate issues and had become "integral members" of the Arthur's Pass community while running the Village B&B.

"Let's help them to keep their dreams alive through the difficult road ahead. They're lovely people who deserve our support," the fundraising page said. 

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