Fire disrupts community groups

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Several community groups are seeking alternative venues following a fire at West End Hall, which caused extensive damage to the building.
Fire broke out in the Timaru hall, in Maltby Ave, in the early hours of Monday, causing significant damage toits kitchen and roof.
Timaru police are treating the fire as suspicious, and access to the hall has been cut off as investigations into the incident continue.
The building is owned by the Timaru District Council.
The West End Indoor Bowling Club is one of the community clubs affected by the closure.
Club president Hugh Smith said the fire had been a ‘‘ real wake-up call for a Monday morning’’.
‘‘We went down and had a look when the fire was out,’’ Mr Smith said.
‘‘We were told once it’s cleared and health and safety say it’s OK we will get our gear out.’’
The club used the hall every Monday and on the first Thursday of every month. Its gear is stored at the hall.
Mr Smith said a quick inspection on Monday showed the club’s equipment probably was not damaged.
‘‘We’re pretty fortunate that our stuff is kept in the room on the northwest corner ofthe building.
‘‘The door was closed and a chap had a quick look in there for us and it appears to be undamaged and quite dry.’’
The club had found an alternative venue at the Timaru Indoor Bowls rooms in Ashbury, he said.
‘‘There’s plenty of room down there and the club meet there on Monday night.’’
The club has used the hall for at least 50 years and has about 30 members.
He said the group was lucky it had alternative arrangements.
‘‘Others might not be as fortunate asus, though. A lot use the hall and it’s busy at weekends for weddings and parties.’’
Timaru District Council corporate services group manager Tina Rogers said the hall was popular with many groups.
‘‘It is well used by a variety of users.’’
Other users included families and exercise classes. The council also leased the building to four Timaru-based masonic lodges.
At this stage the council was not considering offering alternative venues to the those groups, she said.
Detective Sergeant Greg Harrison, of Timaru, said the fire was being treated as suspicious.
It appeared it might have started in a wheelie bin outside the hall. – Anyone with information should call Timaru police (03) 687-9816.