A fire that shut down a home show at Christchurch's CBS Arena may have cost exhibitors more than $15 million in damaged products and lost business.
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The Rebuild and Renovate Christchurch Home Show was cancelled after a fire at the arena early Saturday morning.
The fire was believed to have originated in or near a spa pool, and activated the stadium's sprinkler system, causing water and smoke damage to exhibitions throughout the venue.
Charlie Loughnan, corporate services manager for Fire Fighting Pacific, which supplies fire protection for the arena, said if it was not for the sprinkler system, the fire would have destroyed all the displays, the goods and the building.
"To put this into perspective, the Thursday night Lionel Richie show will be ready to go without a hitch once the team on site have undertaken a simple clean," said Loughnan.
He said CCTV cameras showed the fire started in a display of spa pools and grew to the point where the plume of heat was at the roof of the building, activating the automatic sprinklers. Within three minutes the fire was effectively extinguished, before the first fire appliance had arrived at the arena.
The resulting physical damage was to the spa pools, some water damage to carpet tiles, and a coating of black soot across the arena.
The multi-million losses suffered by exhibitors were largely due to the loss of potential trade, he said.
UNRELATED SPA POOL BUSINESS SUFFERS
Vortex Spas managing director Andrew Pullen said his company was not the stallholder whose spa caught fire, but negative publicity around spa pools caused by Saturday's event was affecting his business.
"We're very distraught because we have lost a significant amount of business that we would have gathered there."
It was not clear if the fire was caused by a fault in a spa pool or if it was caused by an electrical fault nearby, he said.
"We're all good, we're fine, but the consequential damage that's been done to our reputation is not good."
The owner of the company whose spa pool caught fire was not available to speak to The Press this morning.
Event director Amanda Magnus said the 160-odd exhibitors would have lost about $15.3 million worth of sales from the cancellation of the event, not counting any damage to stock they had on display when the fire happened.
"We're all quite stunned. It's an enormous thing that's happened to everybody. We're going to do the best we can to help those businesses recoup their losses."
Magnus said it was too early to determine who would have the "overall responsibility" for the damage and losses, but the organisers planned to have a formal meeting with their insurers in Melbourne this morning.
The exhibitors were also expected to be dealing with their own insurance companies as they packed up their stalls today.
Magnus said the event took about a year to organise and it was unlikely it could be rescheduled.
"This is the only venue in Christchurch large enough to contain our show. We'd have to get availability which is highly doubtful. It's a huge ask, but we are back here in October for the Canterbury Home Show."
Ticket holders for the Saturday and Sunday shows would be refunded, she said.
Stadium managers Vbase expected to have the venue cleaned up by the "end of play" tomorrow, in time for Lionel Richie and John Farnham's concert on Thursday night.
General manager Darren Burden said the arena was "pretty busy" today as exhibitors packed up their stalls and documented any damage.
"From their perspective it's pretty devastating. There's obviously going to be a few insurance issues."
The Fire Service was still investigating the cause of the fire and the stadium's loss adjustors were also on site to assess damage to the venue, which was "quite superficial".
"The building systems here did exactly what they were supposed to do. Thankfully no one was injured or hurt, which is obviously the most important thing. It could have been far worse," Burden said.
- The Press
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