An insurance claim for fire damage to Whangārei's Old Town Hall has been accepted but the cost to restore the building is still being assessed.

A fire broke out on the top floor of the building on Bank St on October 10 which fire investigators believed started in electrical wiring.

Council staff along with engineers were onsite yesterday examining how safe the building was and when work might begin.

"It is too early to know the cost of the repairs. Insurers are currently at the site assessing the damage and the process is likely to take some time," Whangārei District Council manager of building control Paul Cook said.


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He confirmed the council's insurance claim for the building had been accepted.

Cook said a local engineering firm RS Eng had been appointed to manage the structural integrity of the building and a dangerous building classification was in place for safety and security reasons.

"Work has been continuing on intermediate floor propping and roof propping has also been installed to protect the structure of the building. A structural engineer, along with council staff, will inspect the propping," Cook said.

When the building was safe work would begin on restoring the 107-year-old building. The council hoped to be able to make an announcement next week on a new home for the building's tenants, which were community groups.

The fire quickly took hold of much of the second floor, spreading through the roof and destroying the landmark clock tower.

Seven fire appliances, including volunteers from brigades at Ruakākā, Portland, Kamo and Onerahi, converged on the scene plus an aerial truck and a mobile command centre.

A diamond-tipped chainsaw was used to pierce a hole in the copper cap on the clock tower so all traces of fire could be extinguished.