Flick­er­ing lamp saves shop owner

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - Kris Boult

A fish and chip shop that has been a fix­ture of a coastal Taranaki town for gen­er­a­tions has gone up in flames – while the owner slept in a room next door.

Bill Hay­ward was wo­ken up by the Opunake fire siren dur­ing the early hours of yes­ter­day morn­ing and thought there must have been a car crash.

Hay­ward, who has co-owned Fish, Chips and More for four years, said: ‘‘I heard the fire siren at about 3am and thought it was a car ac­ci­dent as that’s usu­ally why it goes off at that hour.’’

He was wrong. It was his shop that was ablaze.

‘‘The bed­side lamp was flick­er­ing in the bed­room, which was ac­tu­ally the power go­ing out, so I scram­bled out and the fire bri­gade were here not long af­ter.’’

The shop’s fire alarm is set up to send a mes­sage to Hay­ward’s phone in an emer­gency – but he had the phone set to silent and hadn’t heard it.

The shop has been a fix­ture in Opunake for 50 years and Hay­ward was hope­ful it would be re­paired and open again be­fore Christ­mas af­ter an en­forced hol­i­day.

‘‘It’s pretty dev­as­tat­ing, you look in­side and it’s got up into the roof. It’s just a mess,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve had lots of friends visit us this morn­ing and peo­ple from the com­mu­nity are right be­hind us and giv­ing sup­port and the fire ser­vice have been great.’’

Opunake chief fire of­fi­cer Rod­ney Woods said it was lucky there was a solid con­crete wall be­tween the flat and the shop.

‘‘When we ar­rived there were flames com­ing out of the front win­dows, there was lots of smoke and hotspots,’’ he said.

‘‘Luck­ily they had high con­crete walls as it could have been so much worse.’’

Woods said the crew had the fire down and un­der con­trol within half an hour but re­mained at the scene for around three hours damp­en­ing down hotspots.

Fire in­ves­ti­ga­tors vis­ited the scene yes­ter­day and were still try­ing to as­cer­tain the ex­act cause of the fire.

KRIS BOULT/STUFF

Owner Bill Hay­ward hopes his fish and chip shop will be re­paired and open again be­fore Christ­mas.

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