FIRE tore through Cappuccino’s Cafe in Lismore yesterday morning, destroying the kitchen and causing extensive damage throughout.
The fire erupted when owner Steve Robertson opened the door to the business at 6am and was greeted with thick black smoke.
Owen Mitchell, co-owner of Kol’s Kebabs with his wife Minda, knew something was wrong when he heard several ‘really loud explosions’ from the premises further down Molesworth Street. He looked out but saw nothing.
“I came back in and there was a horrendous stench, like burning rubber,” he said.
He checked the interior of his own business before looking out again.
“There was a big black cloud of smoke coming down the street. Steve (Robertson) was standing in the middle of the road. Smoke was pouring out of his cafe and there were a lot of cracking and popping noises.”
Mr Mitchell said it wascurious there had been no alarms going off.
Northern Rivers Fire Brigade commander, Inspector Greg Lewis, said that firefighters saw large volumes of smoke when they responded to the triple-0 call.
“The fire was centred in the kitchen, but at this stage we are uncertain of the cause or the origin,” Insp Lewis said.
The fire closed the Lismore Strand arcade yesterday, where the eight units were smoke-affected for most of the day. One lane of Molesworth Street was also closed for several hours
Fire and Hazmat personnel were checking gas levels throughout the arcade into the afternoon.
Insp Lewis said they were not helped by the absence of wind blowing smoke and noxious fumes away.
Police took over control of the scene late yesterday and Ballina detectives were investigating.
Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Scott Bingham said police only tookover until a ruling could be made on the cause of the fire.
“With fires in commercial premises you can’t rule out any possibility,” he said.