Fire flashover rips through Taranaki takeaway
A small fire at a Taranaki takeaway suddenly blew up into a blaze that needed eight fire crews to extinguish.
"It suddenly went woomph - what we call flashover, when everything is covered in flames all at once, it gets that hot," fire risk management officer Andrew Cotter said.
"The guy that raised the alarm was there. He was really surprised by how fast it spread."
That passerby had rushed to raise the alarm on foot when he spotted the blaze at Yummy Takeaway in Stratford shortly before 11pm on Monday.
"He's gone and knocked on the fire station door but there was nobody there as its a volunteer service, so he's gone to the police station next door.
"I guess it was quite lucky there were people there; they weren't out on on a duty somewhere."
Crews were called from Stratford, Eltham, Toko, Kaponga and New Plymouth and at the height of the blaze there were four appliances on the main street and four in the alleyway behind the shop.
Fortunately, there was nobody in the building, Cotter said.
"That's one of the things that was heavy on everybody's minds when we arrived. A lot of fish and chip shops have the family living out the back."
Firecrews worked fast to prevent the fire spreading, he said.
"When I got here about 11.45pm, it was just smoking, the fire was out by then."
Cotter said the firewalls between the shop and the other building had done their job.
"With any building, if the fire burns hot enough, it's going to make its way through everything."
"From what I have seen there were no fire detection systems in the building."
Cotter said the cause of the fire was still unknown. He was working with the owners insurance company on the investigation of the fire.
Yummy Takeaways owner Ivan Liu was waiting outside his burned out shop for Cotter's arrival shortly after 8am on Tuesday, cradling a takeaway coffee to warm his hands in the chilly Stratford morning.
He'd been awoken by a phone call from police during the fire, and left for home about 3am after it was out.
"I couldn't sleep after I got home," he said.
Liu said he had closed the shop and headed home to Hawera about 9.50pm.
He was hopeful the business would reopen in about two months, once the building was repaired, although timing depended on the insurance company and the building's owner.
He had run the takeaway shop for five years, but it had been going in Stratford for about 20 years.
"Something like this has never happened to me in 30 years in business," he said.
Next door, staff from McDonald Real Estate were thankful the fire wall had done its job, agent Jacki Berry said.
There was an overpowering smoke smell in the office and some water damage from the firefight, but the office's lights were working and its computers appeared to be all right.
"We're waiting for After Disaster to arrive and clean up the mess," she said.
One of the shop's neighbours, Keara Oeu, owner of the Casa Pequena Cafe, said he and his family slept through the drama outside their upstairs apartment over the cafe.
"I went to sleep early, I have been very busy and was tired," he said.
"In the morning I discovered this had happened."