Police still investigating cause of New Plymouth restaurant fire

Our Place owners Russel Laird, left, and Mark Louis measure up the new bar layout as refurbishments get underway ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Our Place owners Russel Laird, left, and Mark Louis measure up the new bar layout as refurbishments get underway following a fire in an adjacent restaurant in July.

Seven weeks after fire tore through a New Plymouth restaurant police are still investigating the cause.

About 6am on July 2, the fire brigade received reports of alarms sounding and smoke pouring from Cafe Istanbul, Devon St East.

The blaze caused serious damage to the restaurant, the Radio New Zealand office above it and neighbouring bar Our Place, which is separated from the eatery by an alleyway.

Flashback: Our Place Russel Laird and Mark Louis survey the damage to their bar after a fire in an adjacent restaurant ...
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Flashback: Our Place Russel Laird and Mark Louis survey the damage to their bar after a fire in an adjacent restaurant in July.

What ignited the fire remains under police investigation. It was the second one at the business within two months. In May an oven was left on,  causing a small fire in the kitchen.

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Detective Sergeant Pat Yates said the case was open and inquiries were ongoing.

New Plymouth bar Our Place has been shut following a fire at cafe Istanbul in July.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

New Plymouth bar Our Place has been shut following a fire at cafe Istanbul in July.

"We are still investigating it," Yates said on Monday.

"We still have to speak with a number of people in respect to this fire and the police investigation is not closed at this point."

Meanwhile Our Place owners Russel Laird and Mark Louis have been given the all-clear to move back into their premises and begin the extensive refurbishment required after the fire.

Our Place was seriously damaged after a fire at adjacent restaurant Cafe Istanbul in July.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Our Place was seriously damaged after a fire at adjacent restaurant Cafe Istanbul in July.

Laird said he was excited to finally get Clelands Construction on-site last week.

"It was five weeks before anything could really happen and you were left feeling like you were in limbo," he said.

"It feels like a step in the right direction."

Louis said it was a great feeling to be rebuilding the business they opened more than six years ago.

"This last week has been awesome, because up until then there was a feeling of 'what's going on?'," he said.

"You can now actually see something happening and see things progressing."

Laird said the layout of the bar would remain the same but some aspects of the business would be revamped.

"We do have some changes in mind and that's in and around the restaurant and food side of it.

"It (the fire) has given us the opportunity to re-work a few things and iron out a few things."

He said the pair had been fielding a large number of Facebook messages about when they were reopening but a final date hadn't been set.

The inside of the building had been left a charred shell and the refurbishment would involve rewiring and sealing all of the surfaces to prevent the stale odour of smoke seeping through.

Laird said he wanted to be reopen before the Tattoo and Art Festival at the end of November.  

"It's really hard to say. We want to be back up and going sometime in October but it could be early November," Laird said.

"It's basically essential that we get back to business before then. We just want to be part of the excitment around the Tattoo and Art Festival as we have been in the last four years.

"We haven't planned too much at this stage but there will be a big launch party when it happens." 

While the pair had been looking to open a pop-up while the repairs were carried out they couldn't find a suitable venue.

"We still want to do something but it would be more of an event now rather than something each week," Laird said.

 

 - Stuff

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