Blaze guts popular Akaroa bakery

JOELLE DALLY AND MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 10:31 10/01/2013

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The manager of an Akaroa bakery gutted in a fire early today says he had "never been so scared in my life" after discovering the raging blaze while he was preparing filled rolls.

McGregor's Akaroa Bakery manager Corey Hondelink, 37, had been working in the shop area at the front of the Beach Rd building for about half an hour when he heard a "popping" sound behind him about 4am.

He saw through a window the whole back of the building ablaze.

He ran down the side of the bakery to get a garden hose but tripped on a bucket. He got in his car and phoned emergency services. 

"It was all a blur. I've never been so scared in my life. I just wanted to get away," he said.

"It was so fast. The front is not too bad but the back is ashes and cinder. I'd say another few minutes and the whole place would have gone." 

Hondelink said the bakery was due to have its one-year anniversary under the current ownership on Sunday.

"[We] took over on Friday, January 13, last year. I said to my boss, 'This is ominous'."

Owner Bernie Sugrue said the bakery would be out of action for a while.

"The roof is so burnt you'd think you shouldn't be under it. We've lost everything in the bakehouse,'' he said.

"We'll just work through it and get it cleaned up and start baking again. The biggest thing is everyone is safe and sound."

Akaroa chief fire officer Kim Stewart said a fire investigator was at the scene to determine the cause of the fire.

He said flames were coming out the roof when fire crews arrived about 4.05am. It took about 40 minutes to put the fire out. 

"It was blowing quite a gale when we arrived. It was quite a concern until we got it under control,'' he said.

The blaze was one of two major fires in Canterbury overnight.

A bushfire left part of a riverbed charred in Swannanoa, between Rangiora and Cust. 

The fire encompassed 300 by 100 metres on a riverbed, south fire communications shift manager Andrew Norris said. 

Firefighters had battled the blaze since 3.30am and it was under control, but they remained at the scene to continue dampening it, Norris said. 

A rural fire officer will investigate the cause. 

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- The Press

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