15 Dec 2011

Investigation begins into mall fire

6:56 pm on 15 December 2011

The Fire Service is investigating the cause of a blaze which gutted a store in Rotorua's largest shopping mall.

The first report of the blaze was from a police patrol at 6am on Thursday morning

It completely engulfed the Warehouse Stationary store in Victoria Street but was prevented from spreading to other buildings in the mall.

Chief Fire Officer at the scene, Graham Fuller, says the roof of the store has collapsed.

He says it does not appear to have been deliverately lit.

Mr Fuller says about 80% of the mall has been reopened and the rest should be accessible to shop owners by Friday morning.

At the height of the blaze 12 fire appliances were at the scene, including some from other areas, including Hamilton.

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce says the fire will have a big impact on business in the run-up to Christmas.

Chief executive Roger Gordon says it is the busiest time of the year for retailers and hopes insurance will cover most of their losses.