'Pretty resilient': Family business vows to bounce back from fire

A suspicious fire that broke out in a business early yesterday has resulted in a total loss of...
A suspicious fire that broke out in a business early yesterday has resulted in a total loss of the premises. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
A family-owned Southland pet food business, gutted by a suspicious fire early yesterday, will be back up and running in a fortnight, its owner says.

The fire yesterday engulfed Fordes Pet Food at Heddon Bush, near Winton, resulting in what Fire and Emergency New Zealand is calling a "total loss" of the building.

Fordes owner and managing director Cam Moir last night said he was hoping the local community would rally and help them get back on their feet in no time.

The company’s Facebook page says it manufactures pet food from "downer and injured stock" it collects from around Southland and Otago.

Mr Moir said key items it needed to carry on working, like trucks, freezers and chillers, were not damaged and he was committed to rebuilding within two weeks.

"We’re pretty resilient and we don’t like to sit around on our hands. We will do something to get back on our feet as quick as we can."

It was a pretty tough time for farmers at the moment, he said.

"We’re going into the cull season, so they’re going to have stock that they want to send that’s not going to be suitable for the meat works for whatever reason and as a result we want to be there for them."

The company processed about 4500 dairy cows a year into pet food as well as a lot of sheep.

Mr Moir said Fordes would be out of action for the next "couple of weeks" but was already working on a plan to process dairy cow from another site.

Sheep processing would be on hold for a bit longer than that.

Staff would keep their jobs because they were "a part of the family".

They were trying to move as quickly as possible, but with the fire investigation ongoing, and no known cause as of last night, he had not been given a timeframe of when the property would be released back to him.

A Fenz spokeswoman said crews from Nightcaps and Winton and a tanker from Otautau were called at 1am yesterday. Another tanker was called while they were en route. They found a well-involved blaze at the property, about 80m by 60m in size.

Another truck from Otautau was sent, as were an extra tanker and aerial appliance from Invercargill.

The fire, which was under control by 8am, was being treated as suspicious, she said.

Invercargill specialist fire investigator Murray Milne-Maresca said there had been a "total loss" of the building. The investigation was held up because of the instability of the structure. — Additional reporting Laine Priestley