Katikati cricketers are devastated after a fire ripped through a large shed at Moore Park on Sunday destroying $20,000 worth of grounds equipment donated to the club.
"This incident is nothing but gut-wrenching, a week out from Christmas when things were looking so bright and positive for the club," Katikati Cricket Club president Ben Warren said, after a call from Katikati Police early on Sunday.
Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade attended the blaze which was well alight at both ends when they arrived shortly after 1.30am.
Two appliances with 12 firefighters battled the blaze and other firefighters came on foot from the station in Sheffield St.
Officer In Charge, Station Officer Craig Gray said the fire was utterly devastating for the groups involved and in the wider community.
The shed was owned by Western Bay of Plenty District Council and previously used for horticultural purposes. The cricket and football clubs had an arrangement with the council to use the building for storing grounds equipment.
The clubs were waiting for power to be installed so further security options could be installed.
Katikati Football Club president Avi Arora said it was so disappointing for the whole community.
"Our parents and volunteers do so much and this just disadvantages local sport.
"We particularly feel for the dedicated group of cricket club volunteers who've helped us to achieve so much to date with the new fields.
"Now all Moore Park groups will be concerned about the grounds equipment we need to run our clubs and how we store it safely. "
Items lost in the fire included a four-tonne roller that cost $11,000 donated by the Pooley family; a Kubota LF3800 outfield reel mower donated by the Warren family and purchased from staff at Whangamata Golf course, worth more than $6500; and a brand new Lawnmaster reel mower worth $3000, donated by Don Grayling and family. Other items included a new backpack sprayer, a gazebo and turf matting.
Warren said the items inside were not insured due partly to expensive insurance costs and a belief the items would be too difficult to steal.
The council's deputy chief executive, Gary Allis, said the building was insured.
"In the interim we are working with Ben and the clubs to see where we can assist."
Fire and Emergency NZ (Fenz) and police were at the scene on Sunday. A Fenz spokesperson said on Monday they were still investigating the fire.
Sergeant Steve Hindmarsh said they were waiting for the fire report: "At this stage, it is inconclusive and not being treated as arson."
Posts on the Katikati Cricket Club Facebook page ranged from offers of help and dismay with one saying, "what a loss for the club".
A Te Puna business owner posted: "Shocking Ben these people need to be publicly flogged when found mate 2wel surf ponchos would like to offer you $1000 towards the reward to find these Mongrels and on top of that we will start the donations to replace your gear with $2000. I challenge all Katikati businesses to match this donation."
Bay of Plenty Cricket Association has offered its support and Papamoa Cricket Club has donated $1000.
Hundreds of hours of volunteer work had gone into everything over six months, with favours called in, gear borrowed and free expert advice given, Warren said.
"It rips you up inside, that you do all of this for our community, especially the kids, and the actions of a few shatter dreams and aspirations.
"Our members won't give up but we do need help, and reach out to all cricket and football supporters throughout the Bay of Plenty."
To help visit the Katikati Cricket Club page at Givealittle.co.nz