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