Investigators search for cause of fire
Fire investigators are to interview the 50 staff that were working in the paint and body shop to find out what caused HWP’s devastating blaze.
It is expected to take the rest of this week for fire officers to talk to each of the employees about what they may have seen on Monday afternoon.
The team of investigators are particularly interested in finding out what was happening in the moments before the fire alarm sounded.
The fire started in the paint and body shop at the back of the HWP building on the southern side of St John’s Road and took just minutes to engulf the adjoining car and cycle showrooms and the upstairs administration offices.
A full fire investigation is now underway with officers trying to piece together exactly what happened. Early indications suggest the fire may have been due to a faulty fuse box in one of the spray painting booths.
A team of about four fire investigators remained on the scene all day yesterday. In the morning they could be seen talking to HWP bosses and sifting through the rubble, which was still smoking.
The investigators then made the decision to demolish the familiar blue and white frontage of HWP’s main building as it was a danger to the public. The remaining part of the structure was brought tumbling to the ground by two bulldozers.
Huge cracks were visible in the building frontage, which included HWP Group Body and Paint Centre in large letters, and fire investigators explained they wanted to “bring it down before if fell down”.
The Royal Gazette yesterday that the fire spread at “an incredible speed” because it was an old warehouse-type building with an iron roof. As flames swept through the building, its walls and roof quickly collapsed.
Firefighters said it made no difference which gate they arrived by as by the time they got to the scene the fire had “already taken hold.”
Some firefighters tried to enter the building but the power of the blaze and the construction of the building meant it was too dangerous. They also talked of “visibility problems” caused by large amounts of thick, black smoke.
They said they’d “never seen anything like it” and put the loud explosions down to the gas cylinders stored in the building.