A BUILDING more than 100 years old was all but totally destroyed in Stockinbingal’s main street in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Emergency services received the callout to the burning building at about 4.30am and when they arrived found the premises well alight.
Stockinbingal Rural Fire Service captain Richard Eberle, who is also the owner of the building, was the first on scene after emergency services received the callout.
The Stockinbingal RFS crew immediately began to fight the fire however the blaze had taken hold quickly and moved through the entire building.
Behind the vacant shop was a shed which has been used to restore old furniture. With timber and solvents inside the shed Fire and Rescue NSW Cootamundra Brigade captain Les Carr reports this fuelled the fire.
Two crews from the Fire and Rescue NSW Cootamundra Brigade arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the RFS at which point efforts were being made to protect neighbouring properties.
Mr Carr said when town crews arrived the fire had spread to the roof cavity of a vacant house immediate to the east of the vacant building.
Firefighters had to remove part of the ceiling to gain access to the blaze in order to bring it under control.
Mr Carr reported the glow from the fire could be seen from Stock Hill on the approach to the village.
He said there was no way of saving the vacant shop such was the intensity of the blaze. Emergency services report that a moderate amount of damage was sustained to the vacant shop, however the damage was isolated to one corner of the building and the roof.
It took about four hours to bring the fire under control.
The circumstances of the fire are still being investigated, however emergency services report that there is no evidence the blaze was deliberately lit.
Mr Eberle said when he arrived the rear of the building was well alight.
He had purchased the building, which had not been used as a shop since the 1980s, with the intention of restoring it to ensure it did not fall into disrepair.
He said it was partially renovated and while he was undecided what the building would be used for in the future his primary concern was always that the building not be abandoned.
With part of the front of the building still relatively intact, Mr Eberle said he is hopeful this can be saved and the building can be rebuilt in line with its original character.
He said they are definitely planning to rebuild.
The investigation is now in the hands of the Rural Fire Service with a report into how the fire started expected to be finalised by the end of this week.