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Arcade still closed after fire

DAVID NIELSEN

THE Lismore Strand arcade in Molesworth Street remains closed after a fire on Monday morning.

The only business up and running in the arcade yesterday was the Greater Building Society, which appeared untouched by the blaze that severely damaged Cappuccino’s Sidewalk Cafe at the entrance to the arcade.

Paul Dixon, Greater’s head of retail operations, said the society had hoped to re-open the branch on Tuesday but had been unable to enter the building until safety checks had been completed on roof beams common to the cafe and the branch.

The arcade yesterday smelt strongly of smoke.

It was still roped off from the public and a security guard was posted at the entrance.

It appears that most of the other shops have suffered either smoke or heat damage.

Kurt Richard, the real estate agent in charge of strata management at the arcade, would not comment on how much longer it was likely to remain closed.

Lismore Fire Brigade Inspector Chris Fabri said the matter was in the hands of the police.

He said a fire investigation was ongoing and was awaiting further statements.

Insp Fabri said he thought the next step would be for the arcade to be given a good cleaning by professionals.

Inspector Paul Fredericks, duty officer at Ballina police station, where the police inquiry is based, said there was nothing further to add at this stage.

The fire was centred in the kitchen of Cappuccino’s Cafe, and seemed to erupt when owner Steve Robertson opened the door at 6am.

He was greeted by thick black smoke, which smelt like burning rubber, according to neighbour Owen Mitchell, of Kol’s Kebabs.

Mr Mitchell said he had heard several loud explosions shortly after he got to work and when he looked out saw a cloud of smoke coming down Molesworth Street towards him.

He said it was curious that no alarms had gone off during the fire.

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