Retreat's workshop razed

A workshop at a Central Otago religious retreat was engulfed in flames early yesterday.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand communications shift supervisor Ian Littlejohn said crews from Middlemarch, Ranfurly and Naseby converged on the En Hakkore Religious Retreat in Orangapai Sanatorium Rd, near Waipiata, shortly before 5am.

They arrived to find the workshop ''well-involved'' by fire, and got to work with two low-pressure hoses to protect the surrounding area, before the blaze died down by about 6am, he said.

''By 6.08am, crews started the process of what we call 'turning over,' shifting iron to make sure there were no embers underneath, things like that.''

The blaze destroyed the workshop.

Six appliances were on the scene at the fire's peak, and there were fears initially of the possibility of welding equipment and a fuel tank inside the workshop exploding, but this did not happen.

A fire investigator neither attended nor was requested, suggesting crews at the scene knew the cause and it was not suspicious, Mr Littlejohn said.


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