Fire setback for yogi Bearpark

By Hayley Gastmeier -
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Andy Bearpark.
Andy Bearpark.

As a former chief of staff for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Andy Bearpark is used to putting on the political heat.

But yesterday his Featherston home, earmarked to be a yoga retreat, was in the firing line when it was damaged in an early morning blaze.

Mr Bearpark, who was also a private secretary for Mrs Thatcher, moved to Featherston last November.

His yoga and meditation sanctuary was due to open in six weeks' time, but yesterday's unexplained fire has interrupted his plans.

The place was close to being completed, bar a few finishing touches.

"The question is, are we still opening or not? One thing I have learnt is you never make a decision while in shock," Mr Bearpark said.

The fire started at about 7am, with the cause yet to be determined.

"I was just sitting there reading the newspaper and firstly the power went out... and then there was a big 'pop' in the ceiling, followed by a nasty smell of plastic burning, smoke and the fire."

Although Mr Bearpark was insured, he said at the end of the day he only needed three things.

"I have spent my whole life traveling the world. All you need in life is wallet, passport and keys."

These items Mr Bearpark had retrieved from the house intact.

Previously a war zone reconstruction expert, he swiftly called the fire service.

"I picked up the dogs, threw them into the car and drove myself and the dogs down the driveway to be far enough away from the house, so if there was an explosion none of us would be affected."

He said the Featherston fire crew arrived in what seemed like seconds.

Firefighters and trucks from Martinborough, Greytown and Masterton were called in to help fight the blaze, which took about 30 minutes to put out.

The political figure turned yogi said he was not overly concerned about his lost and damaged possessions.

"I was safe, the dogs were safe ... the dogs are important, I'm important, belongings [are] not so important."

It was too early to say how extensive the damage was, Mr Bearpark said.

"It looks awful because of the smoke damage, which I know with all fires is the big thing that you see instantly. So everything in the house is covered with smoke, but that doesn't mean the walls will collapse or anything."

He said in times of crisis the only thing to do was "go to a hotel and order a cup of coffee".

Featherston fire chief Colin McKenna said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

"He [Mr Bearpark] had turned his HRV system on which is in the roof, just to transfer some of the warmth from the fire he had going in the lounge. He went back to bed and smelt smoke."

Mr McKenna said Mr Bearpark had "done all the right things" and had working smoke alarms in the house.

"We arrived there at about 7.30 [yesterday] morning and the house was alight in three bedrooms at that stage, with plenty of smoke coming out of the roof of course, but we had it under control really quickly."

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