Staff gutted after fire
STAFF are back at work amongst the mangled wreckage of last week’s fire at an Onehunga car parts company.
Strong for Honda director Warren Strong says some staff are working outside and doing double shifts while the weather holds.
“We’ll survive this. It could have been much worse,” he says.
But rebuilding will be a long process, with the cost of damage and lost stock estimated at $5 million.
Mr Strong says he’s still coming to terms with the extent of the blaze.
“The staff are devastated,” he says.
“Some of these guys have worked here for 10 years and it’s all hand-built. This was state of the art as far as the industry is concerned.”
The fire started on Thursday morning after welding sparks dropped into fuel run-off.
Mr Strong says the welder had a fire extinguisher with him, but immediately realised the fire was too big to fight.
“As soon as the spark went in he saw it was too late. He ran to the alarm and smashed that and then the site cleared pretty quickly.”
Clouds of thick black smoke could be seen for kilometres as the fire took hold.
But Mr Strong, who was working at another site in Te Papapa, wasn’t concerned when first alerted to the blaze.
“I said: ‘Give me a call when it’s out’. They said: ‘You’d better come down and have a look’.”
All staff are now back at work at the Angle St site, which processes 700 cars every week.
The fire-damaged building is not weatherproof, so a concrete wall has been built to hold contaminants washed out during rain.
The pollutants are then pumped out by sucker truck.
Water and foam from firefighting was contained by a $1m pollution-control system put in place a year ago.
“It looked like overkill at the time, but you can see why we needed it now,” Mr Strong says.
The fire also destroyed his brother Dave Strong’s rally car, tools and a year’s supply of tyres.
“He’s still got last year’s car that luckily was at home in his garage,” he says.
Other buildings on the site were spared, allowing sales and administration work to continue.
Chief fire officer Graham Fuller says 20 trucks and more than 70 firefighters responded to the fire.
The initial response was to put up a “water curtain” to prevent the blaze spreading.
He says all staff were evacuated quickly and safely, and nearby businesses were cleared as a precaution.
Aftermath: Director Warren Strong says last week’s fire caused $5 million of damage at Strong for Honda in Onehunga.
Dark day: Smoke billows from the Strong for Honda site on Thursday.