FIRE investigators have begun the complex task of trying to figure out what caused a large blaze that apparently started in the roof of Portland’s IGA Supermarket early Sunday morning, a fire that caused an estimated $4.5 million damage.
Two investigators from Casterton and Heathmere began sifting through collapsed roof sections, shelving and food in the stricken supermarket yesterday afternoon. The fire, which was contained to the front and middle of the store, would have been far worse had it not been for the very quick reaction of local Country Fire Authority firefighters, who arrived on the scene just four minutes after they were notified by police at about 4.45am.
CFA district 4 operations officer Gary Harker said it was a challenging fire to put out.
“We got there at the right time but it was a very hot blaze above our heads,” he said. “There was major internal damage and we had to put water everywhere. We had to deal with a lot of small explosions as dog food and other canned goods expanded and blew up due to the heat. There were cans flying through the air. It took about two hours to put it out.”
The CFA’s quick response prevented the blaze from doing any more structural damage and halted its spread to neighbouring buildings, especially the next-door car wash. But thick choking smoke was seen billowing from the roof for more than an hour.
In all, some 70 firefighters took part in what officers said was a difficult operation. Besides the Portland unit, teams from Heywood, Gorae West, Heathmere, Port Fairy and Warrnambool fought the flames and helped with stabilisation in the afternoon.
Read more in the Portland Observer.