Cigarette butts are believed to be the cause behind a fire that badly damaged a popular Waihi Beach bar and cafe.

The main interior of The Porch was left a charred mess after fire early on Saturday morning.
Waihi Senior Sergeant Aaron Fraser said initial investigations into the 12.45am fire suggested smouldering cigarette butts caused the fire. The damage has forced owners of the popular spot to shut it down as they work to clean it up, just as the holiday town heads into summer.

The bin was located in the bar area.

"There's no sign of forced entry or anything like that," Mr Fraser said.

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"It looks like cigarette butts have been thrown into, or staff have thrown ashtrays into, a bin and staff left it and it ignited."

Mr Fraser said the cause of the fire might have been as innocent as staff clearing outside ashtrays at the end of the night into an inside bin.

"As far as police are concerned there's nothing suspicious," Mr Fraser said.