Towel oil blamed for fire

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Massage oil residue on towels is the likely cause of a laundry room fire that resulted in the evacuation of two Queenstown bars and an apartment block.

The Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to an alarm activation at 1 Athol St, next to the Village Green, at 10.30pm on Saturday.

Firefighters wearing breathing kit found a smoke-filled room on the second floor of the building above Brazz Steakhouse & Bar.

They quickly extinguished a blaze involving a clothes dryer and heat pump in the laundry room of the Nadi Wellness Centre.

No-one was injured.

Business owner Sandi Murphy says it was ”such a shock to receive the call late at night and I’m just really grateful no-one was hurt and nothing happened beyond the small area”.

The yoga studio and wellness centre has a sophisticated fire alarm system, she says.

”The brigade was alerted and the situation was very quickly contained.”

From an initial fire investigation assessment, it appears oil residue on towels and sheets might be the cause.

”It came from the drum,” Murphy says.

”What we’ve had as an assessment is sometimes when there’s residue oil from towels and sheets, because we have a massage business, it can overheat and combust.

”It’s apparently not uncommon to have this happen in restaurants as well. It’s something people could be more aware of across the board.”

Murphy, who wasn’t aware this could happen, says all necessary precautions would be put in place to ensure no repeat.

Stanley St was temporarily closed and Brazz, The Speight’s Ale House and the apartment block were evacuated for about an hour.

The large building, owned by former Queenstown mayor and cabinet minister Warren Cooper, contains several businesses and apartments.

Shift manager for Southern Fire Communications Brent Dunn says extra resources from Frankton, Arrowtown and Alexandra were called in.

The surrounding rooms and walls were checked.

Central-North Otago Fire Risk Management Officer Stuart Ide says he attended the scene yesterday morning.

”It was pretty much confined to the dryer and heat pump,” Ide says.

”I’m just waiting for some more information tomorrow or the next day before concluding the investigation.”

Murphy says the wellness centre was closed yesterday but could reopen today.

Yoga students can check its Facebook page.

Otago Daily Times