1 Jan 2010

Flower business goes up in smoke but no one hurt

4:00 pm on 1 January 2010

The owners of a Christchurch flower-growing business damaged by fire early on New Year's Day have seen their business go up in smoke but are relieved no one was hurt.

Several houses neighbouring Moffatt's Flower Company in the semi-rural suburb of Halswell were briefly evacuated because of fears that a tonne of fertiliser would explode or unleash toxic gas.

The Fire Service says the calcium nitrate in the fertiliser releases toxic gases when heated and has the potential to explode.

Sixteen firefighters were later decontaminated as a precaution.

Barbara Moffatt, who runs the business with her husband Stephen, says they were woken by the alarm at 4.30am, by which time the building was already well alight. A boiler in a shed had apparently caught fire.

The shed, which contained computers that control irrigation and air vents, was destroyed, along with thousands of dollars worth of fertilisers.

Mrs Moffatt says it was soul-destroying to see the business go up in smoke but the family is relieved that no one was hurt and that the glasshouses full of roses were unharmed.