The owners of the Piha fish and chip shop gutted in a suspected arson attack say they are heartbroken.
Owners Adrian and Vicki Doggett were at Nadi airport this morning about to depart after a "gorgeous week in Fiji" when they received a phone call telling them about the fire.
"It's heartbreaking," Adrian Doggett told the Herald as he was driving in to Piha to get his first glimpse of the damaged shop. "An innocent little fish and chip shop, victims of sickos.
"We live in a small beautiful part of the world and these things are quite unusual to say the least but, my God, it affects you when it does."
He said they had insurance and were thankful no one had been hurt.
Doggett said he had yet to get his head around the financial implications the fire would have on him and his wife.
"We've got all our staff that we've employed that are out of work. I just don't know yet."
But even in the such terrible circumstances the couple remained positive.
"We're philosophical," he said. "We'll be back."
Piha senior lifeguard Duncan Clark said everyone in the small community was "gutted".
"It's a historical little part of Piha that is no more."
He said he felt for the Doggetts who had worked hard at the fish and chip shop and the surf club restaurant all summer.
"They've worked hard their whole summer and finally got a holiday and they are coming home to this," he said.
"Adrian keeps all the kids in the community working ... they've got behind everything that's going on. We'll just have to support them when they get back."
He said the fires had affected "so many lives, in so many different ways".
Not only would it take its toll on those who worked at the fish and chip shop, it would impact the volunteers firefighters, many of who were connected to the places and people involved, he said.
At least 7ha of hillside scrub was also left blackened by suspicious fires started early this morning.
This follows several other unexplained blazes at the west Auckland settlement throughout the past week.
Peter Chapman, owner of another Piha business, Piha General Store, says frustration and anger are boiling over in the community.
"One very good friend's business has already been burnt to the ground. We don't want that to happen again. Whether we do that through vigilante action, or however we do it, we all want to sleep mate - in particular our [firefighter] volunteers."
- Additional reporting by Daniel Walker of Newstalk ZB.