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Hopes are strong for repairs to building

 
This page contains a news story about Whangarei's Old Municipal Building fire and finding a new home for commmunity groups.
Updated: 16/10/2019 12:00 a.m.

Photos of the old municipal building.

Finding a new home for community groups to operate from together has been the focus following last week's fire in Whangarei's Old Municipal Building.

The building has been home to:

  • the Citizens Advice Bureau,
  • Dyslexia Plus,
  • the Eplipsy Association,
  • the Northland Multiple Sclerosis Society,
  • Literacy Wangarei,
  • Volunteering Northland,
  • the Whangarei Migrant Centre,
  • Supporting Families and
  • WINGS (Women Immigrant and Newcomers Group) for many years.

On 10 October 2019 fire broke out in the north eastern corner of the building, on the top floor. The cause of the fire is being investigated this week.

All those working in the building were able to evacuate in time and there were no casualties. The Literacy New Zealand rooms were ravaged by the flames, parts of the roof over it fell in and the clock tower was badly burnt and has since been removed for safe keeping.

Other parts of the building were damaged by water and smoke, and some parts were more or less untouched.

On Friday, 11 October 2019 engineering assessments were done and a meeting was held with the community groups who gathered at 116 Bank Street. Small groups of people were able to retrieve essentials from their offices in the building.

Dozens of offers of accommodation have come in from the community, and Council's Group Manager Sandra Boardman said all were touched by and grateful for the support and efforts of everyone involved.

"Building & Fire Services and Northpower inspect the building every month and it had a newly revised fire plan. The building is fire compliant and equipped with fire alarms, hoses and fire extinguishers, but it is not required to have sprinklers and does not have them.

"People have asked whether this fire was related to an earlier fire caused by a light fitting in that part of the building. That incident was investigated by fire and power services and the building was judged to be safe, so we are waiting for results of an investigation.

"In the meantime, the building is insured and we have strong hopes that it will be able to be repaired. It is clear from the comments and feedback from the community in the past few days that this is a much loved, highly valued building with lots of memories for many.

"Refurbishments over the past few years have been commented on, appreciated and photographed by many."

Mrs Boardman said the clock tower was lifted off the building on Friday night and is being stored while decisions are made, and the focus was very much on the community groups and the needs of their clients.

"Our aim is to keep the groups together as much as we can, in a central area, with parking and easy access."

Montage of photos from the day of the fire.

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