Home Hotel service Police believe Waipā Tavern fire which destroyed century-old pub was deliberately started

Police believe Waipā Tavern fire which destroyed century-old pub was deliberately started

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The fire that engulfed the historic Waipā Tavern in Ngāruawāhia appears to be a deliberate act, with people being questioned by the police about it.

“Police are speaking to a number of people about the fire, which at this stage is believed to have been deliberately started,” a police statement said on Sunday afternoon.

They also said traffic diversions to the south remained in place on Great South Road, Ngāruawāhia, near the pub as investigations continued.

“Contractors will remove portions of the structure due to the risk posed to members of the public,” the statement said.

Earlier, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson revealed that the tavern was to be completely demolished after the derelict building was engulfed in fire in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sanson visited the site and confirmed that the verandas in danger of collapsing were to be dismantled on Sunday by order of the council. The cost of this work would be the responsibility of the owner.

One of the lanes of the road outside had been closed due to the threat of falling verandahs.

“One of the verandah posts is literally right by the side of the road,” he said on Sunday afternoon.

RAEGAN MAISEY

Video provided by Raegan Maisey shows the Waipa Hotel in Ngāruawāhia fully embroiled in a fire

Once the verandahs were removed, it was expected that the unstable masonry would also be pushed back onto the site.

“It’s a dangerous site at the moment, so it needs to be turned into a safe one.”

Sanson was informed that the same contractors who will be carrying out this work were to meet with the owner of the tavern to discuss the demolition.

He said that before demolition work began, police wanted to check two areas inside the building shell to make sure no one had been caught in the fire. Firefighters were also investigating the cause of the fire.

A fire department spokesman said their investigators had attended the scene but no information on a possible cause was available at this stage.

A team was due to return to the site around 5 p.m. Sunday to check for potential hot spots, the spokesperson said.

The demolition would mark the end of an era, Sanson said.

“It’s sad to see it disappear…every time you lose one of these buildings, you lose some of your heritage.”

Images provided by Raegan Maisey show the Waipa Hotel in NgÄ ruawÄ hia fully embroiled in a fire overnight.

RAEGAN MAISEY

Images provided by Raegan Maisey show the Waipa Hotel in NgÄ ruawÄ hia fully embroiled in a fire overnight.

Sanson described the Waipā Tavern as “one of those iconic old neighborhood pubs”, although he said he personally had never been there.

“It’s really sad to see us lose another landmark in the neighborhood.

“Our old pubs are part of our history.”

Fire crews mitigated hot spots on Sunday morning after a fire at the historic Waipā Tavern overnight.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Fire crews mitigated hot spots on Sunday morning after a fire at the historic Waipā Tavern overnight.

Firefighters reported on Sunday morning that the fire had caused extensive damage but that there were no injuries in the empty building.

The building was thought to be unused at the time of the fire.

The fire severely damaged the abandoned tavern in Waipā.

Tom Lee / Stuff

The fire severely damaged the abandoned tavern in Waipā.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze around 2 a.m. Sunday morning by multiple calls regarding the emergency.

The Waipā Tavern had long been a feature of Ngāruawāhia.

Tom Lee / Stuff

The Waipā Tavern had long been a feature of Ngāruawāhia.

Five fire trucks, two ladder trucks and a number of support vehicles were dispatched. Thirty firefighters were on the scene.

The 80m by 40m building was well lit when service arrived.

No one had to be rescued and firefighters were not injured, a fire department spokesman said.

Waipā Tavern – formerly known as Waipā Hotel – was a landmark in Ngāruawāhia.

Ben Curran / Stuff

Waipā Tavern – formerly known as Waipā Hotel – was a landmark in Ngāruawāhia.

In 2016, Things reported that the original Waipā Hotel that stood on the site was built in the late 1800s before being replaced by the structure currently on the site.

A historian then said that the Waipā Tavern was not on the Waikato District Council’s heritage and was not on the register of the Historic Places Trust.

The building would then have been put on the market and taken off the market since 2012.