Town of Hawke’s Bay loses only grocery store to fire – ’emptying, heartbreaking, devastating’ | 1 NEWS


A small town on the North Island has lost its only supermarket after being destroyed by fire.

Emergency services at the scene of a fire in Four Square in Waipawa, Hawke’s Bay. Source: Central Hawke’s Bay District Council

By Tom Kitchin from

Flames raged through the local Four Square in Waipawa, central Hawke’s Bay, early Sunday morning.

Four days later, residents are still coming to terms with the hole he left in the community.

The owner of the building, Jason Wray, only had a few words to describe how he was feeling.

“Hollow out, heartbreaking, devastating, as a building owner, it’s devastating.”

The fire started around 4:30 a.m. and it took about four hours to put it out.

A daycare center in the same building was also damaged and Wray said he was planning his next steps.

“Make sure all the tenants are okay ie Foodstuffs Daycare and their staff are okay, just regroup and the intention is to rebuild.”

The Four Square on the main street of Waipawa, which is also the main highway between Wellington and Napier-Hastings. Source: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Mark Eagle, manager of the nearby Tim Chote Appliances store, was sleeping at his home when the fire broke out.

“I was a little in shock, I opened the bedroom window and I could see it from my house and it was pretty intense, it looked like half the street was swallowed up, so yeah, I got up pretty quickly, ”Chote said. mentionned.

He rushed to his store, but could only look across the road, hoping and wishing his store was going to be okay. Fortunately, it was.

“You could obviously tell that there were no flames here, but maybe even water damage, as they were pumping piles of water, especially on the wall here, but it practically did not been touched. “

Tracy Te Meihana, manager of Lash and Brow Studio and the Magnolia gift shop, was a regular Four Square customer and said she would keenly feel the loss of the store.

“My husband wanted to know if we had duct tape in the store because we thought we were going to have to put windbreakers under the door in case there was any damage from the smoke,” Te Meihana said.

“The first thing I thought was ‘we’re just going to walk into Four Square and buy some,’ without even thinking about it. So that’s how important they are to us and how often we use them.”

Waipawa is a small town of only a few thousand inhabitants.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker, whose office was in Waipawa, said the community was feeling the pain.

“To see such a big space in the middle of our city is just a ruin and it’s heartbreaking,” Walker said.

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Four Square fire in central Hawke’s Bay not considered suspect

The council was arranging transport for those who need help to the nearby town, Waipukurau, to buy food, she said.

Hawke’s Bay Fire and Emergency Zone Deputy Commander Glen Varcoe said investigators were still identifying the cause.

“It started in the cooking zone, we don’t know exactly the conditions or what happened,” Varcoe said.

“This will be mentioned in the fire investigation report in due course when it is completed.”

The report would be completed in about a week, he said.

Four Square Waipawa owner and operator Rachel Williams has only made a statement through Foodstuffs head office.

“We are exploring options on how we can continue to serve the community and our customers in the interim, and look forward to sharing more once we are able to do so,” she wrote.

“But for now, we are focused on helping each other and the well-being of our team.”

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