By Mitchell Clarke
A fire which began in an antique furniture shop in Beaconsfield and tore through four neighbouring businesses is not being treated as suspicious, the CFA has confirmed.
CFA crews were called to the scene on Princes Highway and Beaconsfield-Emerald Road on Thursday 11 July, just after 3pm, where they found the shops “fully involved”.
It’s believed the fire was sparked either by an overloaded power board or by an object being placed over a heater.
Seven trucks and 40 CFA firefighters were involved in fighting the blaze, with Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria also in attendance.
A few members of the public were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but no one needed to be transported to hospital.
The heartbroken owners of neighbouring shops returned to the scene the following day, Friday 12 July, to survey the damage, however all have been unable to enter their stores.
Beaconsfield Pizza, Taco Bill, Vin Pearls Nail and Beauty and Pink Lady’s coin laundromat all received damage – in total six stores were affected.
It’s believed the fire took hold in the antiques shop on the far left property of the shopping strip before taking hold of the neighbouring stores.
Owner of the coin laundromat Ben said “we’re just devastated,” adding that right now he was in “survival mode”.
“I’m grateful we’re all alive, I guess that’s the only gratitude I feel,” he added.
The owners of Taco Bill and Vin Pearls Nail and Beauty, Arun and Tina, respectively, both have other stores at nearby locations. They’re confident the community will band together and help support them in their time of need.
Arun runs the Taco Bill restaurant in Pakenham whilst Tina owns another nail salon across the road from the site.
But for Beaconsfield Pizza owner Eddy, he’s got nothing left, unsure of where to go from here.
“I’ve just lost everything,” Eddy said.
“I’m going to have to go somewhere else and start all over again.”
The Gazette was told that the owner of Casey Antiques spoke with neighbouring business owners on Friday, said to be “visibly upset” and “devastated” about the entire ordeal.
His shop received extensive damage with charred remains of antique furniture scattered across the store.
It’s believed the antique furniture shop had been holding numerous closing down sales, with the business set to cease operation at the end of the month.
The Princes Highway was closed between Beaconsfield-Emerald Road and Wood Street with police controlling the scene as crews battled to get the fire under control.
A number of bystanders were asked to move on for risk of smoke inhalation. The Beaconsfield Fire Brigade issued a statement during the fire which said “smoke will be visible but there is no immediate threat to the community”.
An eyewitness described the scene as “mayhem”.
“It’s very hard to see anything at the moment because of all the smoke,” he said.
“It’s just mayhem. There are fire trucks everywhere and it looks like they have just closed off the highway.”
A local shopkeeper told the Gazette they saw “heaps” of smoke and rushed outside to see what was going on.
“The whole shop was on fire and there was a lot of smoke, with the wind picking up, it’s just blowing everywhere,” he said.
“It’s pretty bad, I saw one person come from the shop, I don’t know if it was a worker. He looked OK but was in a lot of shock.”
The fire took about three hours to contain, with the site declared safe just after 6.30pm.