The owner of a small block of shops in Greerton Village extensively damaged by fire says the suspected arson caused more than a $1 million worth of damage.
Fire and Emergency communications shift manager Dallas Ramsay said fire crews were called to the blaze at a three-storey Chadwick Rd building about 5.30am on Monday.
Flames covered 13m by 25m and a third of the building had been destroyed, she said.
The cause of the fire was still being investigated but landlord Del Roberts said it was being treated as arson. Police confirmed the fire was suspicious but had no further comment to make by this paper's deadline.
Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times from the fire scene, Roberts said he was shocked and disturbed when he received a call about the fire.
Roberts said he had owned the block of shops for about 11 years "and this is my income".
"What upsets me most is the tenants are all good families and this is their livelihood."
The Curry Planet and Ruk Thai takeaway shop had been tenants for several years and the Bladed N Faded Barber Shop and Tattoo Studio next door, which was gutted by the blaze, had been due to open soon, Roberts said.
"We are going to have rebuild which is going to take some time. There has been well over a million dollars worth of damage," Roberts said.
The shocked owners of the Ruk Thai takeaways were still reeling from the fire.
Police investigating 'suspicious' Greerton building fire
Large blaze guts part of a Greerton business
One of the owners, who did not want to be named, said: "It's hard to put into words how we feel. It's so unfair. We have been running this business for more than seven years and work very long hours and have no income insurance."
Other business owners could not be reached for comment before publication.
The building also contained the Tauranga Southern Baptist Church and entry is barred by police tape at the back.
A person who spoke anonymously said there was an earlier fire at the barbershop about six weeks ago but fortunately the fire was put out quickly.
The landlord confirmed that was the case.