A Give a small page was set up for the owners of a Whakatane business after it was set on fire overnight.
Epic Escape was one of six buildings affected by the fire and the local community rallied to help the owners.
âIn the early hours of Monday, November 29, Matt and Anne of Epic Escape, Whakatane suffered a devastating fire. A car was driven into the St John Opportunity Shop building below them and caught on fire, which quickly spread upstairs, completely destroying the business. âI spent three years growing. They put all their heart and soul into building the business of their dreams, and in less than 30 minutes it was gone,â the Givealittle page says.
Police are appealing for information after the suspicious fire raged through the WhakatÄne central business district building on Monday.
Police patrols spotted a car landing at a building on The Strand at 12:43 am.
The vehicle appears to have backed up through the rear entrance.
“It is fortunate that the police arrived quickly on the scene and were able to notify the firefighters and emergencies,” said Senior Detective Sgt. Paul Wilson.
“I want to recognize the devastation suffered by the businesses affected, incidents like this impact the entire community.”
He said an examination of the scene was underway and that fire and emergency services and police remained at the scene.
Police will examine CCTV from surrounding businesses.
The vehicle involved was a blue Subaru Forester with registration FLD29. It was declared stolen in Kawerau on October 18.
WhakatÄne Mayor Judy Turner said six businesses were damaged by the fire.
She says the city’s businesses are “dumbfounded.”
“It’s New Zealand’s small and medium-sized businesses that have paid the highest price for our COVID response, so the last thing we need is a situation [like this]. “