Leak blamed for store fire

By Peter de Graaf

Heavy rain getting in through a leaky roof is the likely cause of a fire which destroyed the Opononi Four Square. 

The blaze started on Sunday evening just as owner Paresh Patel was locking up the business he had owned for less than a year. Fanned by a strong wind it spread quickly through the 50-year-old building, which was destroyed along with all Mr Patel's stock.

Firefighters, a double firewall and a local armed with a garden hose stopped the blaze spreading to the adjacent Opononi Hotel.

Fire investigator Craig Bain spent Sunday night at the scene and returned on Monday to comb through the ruins for clues.

He concluded the likely cause was rain leaking through flat roofing, which may also have been lifted by Sunday's strong wind, where mains power entered the building. The water caused an arc which in turn started the fire.

The fire was as a reminder to get any leaks repaired before more bad weather hit, Mr Bain said.

''If you do have any indication of a leaky roof, get it sorted. We can probably expect more adverse weather like that before the winter's out.''

Locals reported a brief but torrential burst of rain shortly before the fire started at 7.45pm. Paddocks around Opononi were still flooded the following day.

The blaze was fought by volunteer fire crews from Omapere, Rawene and Kaikohe. They were relieved overnight by a paid crew form Whangarei.

- Northern Advocate

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