Fire at Akaroa bakery

A bakery manager called 911 - because he mistakenly thought it was the right number - to alert emergency services to a fire which gutted part of his business in Akaroa yesterday.

McGregor's Akaroa Bakery manager Corey Hondalink, 37, said he heard a popping sound behind him while he was preparing filled rolls about 4am yesterday.

"I turned around and looked through a window and saw flames. The whole back of the building was on fire. I ran outside, down the side of the bakery to grab a garden hose.

"I tried to put the flames out but they were just too big. I tripped over a bucket. It was all a blur. I don't remember a lot of it because I was trying to save my car which was parked at the back of the shop.

"I got into my car and called 911. The number just popped into my head. I thought it was correct but I was in such a panic. I think it was a case of watching too many overseas emergency service TV programmes.

"I dialled the correct number and the fire service were there within a few minutes. I just wanted to get out of there. I drove my car and parked it further up the road. I have never been so scared in my life," he said.

The bakery was due to celebrate it's one year anniversary on Sunday.

"We took over on January 13 last year. It all happened so fast. The front is not too bad but the back is ashes. Another few minutes and the whole place would've gone up in flames," Mr Hondalink said.

Akaroa chief fire officer Kim Stewart said flames were coming out of the roof when fire fighters arrived about 4.05am.

"We were concerned that we may not have been able to save the building because the wind was quite strong. The fire gutted the back part of the bakery - the preparation and storage area.

"We managed to save the front half of the shop. It took about 40 minutes to put the fire out but fire fighters left about 7.30am, after dampening down hot spots," he said.

- By Samantha McPherson of The Star

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