'Ferocious' fire destroys Pumice restaurant
'Devasting stuff' say shattered staffAARON LEAMAN
Fire crews are continuing to investigate the cause of a "ferocious" blaze that destroyed Hamilton's award-winning eatery Pumice Bistro & Cafe.
Fire fighters were alerted to the blaze just after 7am this morning and arrived to find the building on Church Rd engulfed in flames.
Shocked staff embraced each other in the restaurant car-park and watched as fire crews from Hamilton City, Chartwell and Pukete fire stations dampened down the blaze.Thick acrid smoke was still pouring from the blackened multi-level building at 11am.
Senior Station Officer Daryl Trim, from Hamilton Central Fire Station, said it was too early to say what caused the blaze.
"Because it's a reasonably large commercial building it's going to take a bit of time to sift through the evidence and narrow down the cause," Mr Trim told the Waikato Times.
Fire crews arrived shortly after the alarm was raised and found a "ferocious" fire had engulfed the building, he said.
"We managed to control the fire reasonably quickly but it's going to to take a while to dampen it down completely.
"We [stopped] the fire going through to the back but that still has extensive heat and smoke damage. There's no question the building will have to come down."
Pumice Food Group director David Kerr said the building was insured but wasn't sure how long it would take to rebuild the award-winning restaurant.
The Te Rapa restaurant is the group's flagship and also offers cafe, deli and private dining services.
In September, Pumice picked up the best restaurant title at the prestigious Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence.
The restaurant was a finalist in the same category last year.In the past month Pumice teamed up with Hamilton nutritionist Jake Campus to launch a gym-junkie friendly menu.
Mr Campus is based at the nearby Flex Fitness gym.
The new menu is already popular and was a trial for the Pumice Food Group's new cafe at the Cambridge velodrome.