Firefighters from four brigades were brought in to tackle the blaze on High St, Carterton. PHOTO/JULIAN HEYWOOD
High St fire deemed suspicious
A “devastating” fire that severely damaged a building containing four businesses on High St South in Carterton is now being treated as suspicious.
Police confirmed inquiries were being made to determine the cause of the fire that broke out early Thursday morning on the main street that combines with State Highway 2.
Fire and Emergency Wellington district manager Nick Pyatt said the building was well alight when the Carterton fire brigade first arrived at the scene.
They were joined by crews from Masterton, Greytown, and specialist units from Hutt Valley and Palmerston North to help tackle the blaze.
Pyatt said they had the fire under control within an hour, but it was a challenging night due to the fire spreading across multiple shops.
Firefighters were still at the scene at 10am on Thursday, and there were no reported injuries.
Businesses affected by the blaze include Wairarapa Web Design, Madam Plum Boutique, Midway Barber Shop, and the Carterton Food Market.
Wairarapa Police are now seeking information from the public to help in its investigation to determine whether or not the fire was set deliberately.
“The scene examination is completed,” area investigations manager Detective Senior Sergeant Barry Bysouth said.
“We have a number of CCTV leads to follow but would ask that if anyone has any information to get in touch.”
Bysouth said police were working with the fire and emergency fire scene examiner and think the fire started in Midway Barbers.
Owner of the Carterton Food Market Pooja Patel, said the fire was devastating and had destroyed what she and her partner had been building up for the past eight years.
“We’ve been living in New Zealand for the last eight years, and we’ve had the store for two [years],” she said.
“We’ve been saving money all that time for this business. Now, eight years of hard work is gone in eight hours.”
Carterton resident Julian Heywood, who lives nearby, said he was alerted to the fire after waking up to “crackling and popping” noises.
“I woke up to these noises then looked out the window and saw an orange glow and smoke, then said, ‘s*&%, there’s a fire’.”
He immediately called emergency services and made his way down to the fire, which he said was well ablaze.
“It was hot and fully engulfed. It was scary to watch how fast it spread across the building.”
Carterton Mayor Greg Lang was distraught by the news of the fire.
“Everyone at Carterton District Council was saddened by the fire on High St this morning,” he said.
“Our team members know those businesses so well, as they are so close to our offices, yard and events centre. They are part of the everyday life of our town.
“We are a resilient town, and I know there is plenty of support for the building owner.
“Kia kaha Carterton.”
He also praised the fire crews for their efforts in dealing with the fire.
“Our district’s volunteer fire brigade, supported by colleagues from across the region, did an excellent job in making sure the damage did not spread even wider.”
The council has now set up a Givealittle page to support those affected by the fire.
- Visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/carterton-fire to donate.