Ef­fort to fix An­cient Bri­ton af­ter fire

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE - ADAM BURNS [email protected]

GUT­TED. There is only one word for it af­ter an overnight fire crip­pled the 156­year­old An­cient Bri­ton Ho­tel in Naseby yes­ter­day.

The cause of the fire is still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, but it has left its own­ers dev­as­tated and with an un­timely cleanup job ahead of what would have been a busy sum­mer pe­riod.

The ho­tel’s pub­li­can, Adrian Hood, said it would not be a quick job to get the site up and run­ning again.

‘‘I’m just gut­ted,’’ he said. ‘‘This time of year, it’s im­por­tant for Naseby to have some­thing open.’’

The An­cient Bri­ton is one of the coun­try’s old­est ho­tels and dates back to the area’s gold rush era.

The cleanup of the 1863 build­ing, which had been ex­ten­sively dam­aged in the blaze, was in full mo­tion yes­ter­day as Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand in­ves­ti­ga­tors as­sessed the site.

Fire risk man­age­ment of­fi­cer Scott Lanauze said in­ves­ti­ga­tors were still as­sess­ing a few things but they be­lieved the cause to be ac­ci­den­tal.

Two ho­tel em­ploy­ees were in the build­ing at the time of the blaze and es­caped un­in­jured, Mr Hood said.

He was no­ti­fied of the fire at 1am yes­ter­day.

‘‘You could see the flames which started at the back of the ho­tel.’’

The ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex re­mained un­af­fected as it was part of a sep­a­rate build­ing, Mr Hood said.

He and his part­ner, Jan Ruther­ford, who also own the Royal Ho­tel on Earne St, have leased the his­toric pub since 2013.

Its Auck­land­based owner, Roch Sul­li­van, said it was a very sad day.

‘‘It is a shock to ev­ery­one . . . there’s a lot of his­tory and mem­o­ra­bilia in the pub.

‘‘It is a spe­cial hub for that part of the world.

‘‘There’s a lot of peo­ple who will be feel­ing it.’’

He said the pub would likely be closed for some time as re­build plans are worked through.

One sil­ver lin­ing of the tragedy was the sal­vage of me­men­tos in­clud­ing Cen­tral Otago curl­ing tro­phies and pho­to­graphs from in­side the build­ing, he said.

Mr Sul­li­van bought the site in 2003 from Naseby res­i­dent Stu­art Hore.

Mr Hore said the his­toric build­ing had prob­a­bly ‘‘had more snow dam­age than any­thing else in the past’’.

PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

Rav­aged . . . Fire in­ves­ti­ga­tor Mark Bre­den­beck as­sesses dam­age to the com­mu­nal area at Naseby’s An­cient Bri­ton Ho­tel yes­ter­day.

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