Funeral director ‘absolutely devastated’ after fire

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Marsden House Funeral Services director Francis Day says he is “absolutely devastated” following the suspicious fire at his business overnight.

The fire started under the carport of one of Marsden House’ auxiliary buildings and quickly spread inside, extensively damaging the workshop,  building materials and garage area containing four cars including a hearse and a 1957 Plymouth Suburban Francis has had since it was built.

“It hasn’t been a very good morning, I’m absolutely devastated, it’s very upsetting,” says Francis. “It happened last night completely out of the blue, fortunately our alarm systems picked it up and we got someone down here so quickly but it wasn’t quick enough.

“It started under the carport on the northern side and swept through the building but we’re not sure what the cause is yet.”

Fire Service southern shift manager Andrew Norris told the NZ Herald the large building which contained a number of vehicles belonging to Marsden House Funeral Services were destroyed in the fire which broke out just before midnight.

The fire sparked a third alarm with 28 firefighters and a command unit at the scene to quell the blaze.

The fire is being treated as suspicious and is still being investigated.

While the workshop and garage at the rear of the property could not be saved, the main building and school building was spared.

“We’ve lost quite a lot of things but there were no coffins involved,” says Francis. “It’s mainly all our equipment, tools and the bits and pieces in our workshop and vehicle maintenance shop.”

“Unfortunately we were temporarily storing some of the pieces from the Bishop School in it, they were set to be moved back in the school over the weekend so it’s been a real blow.”

Francis says he couldn’t identify which of the school house items were being stored in the building does not know the extent to which the items were damaged.