CFA have downgraded advice for the building fire at Ritchie’s IGA. Power outages are still in effect but road closures have been lifted. There is no threat to the community, but people are advised to avoid the area.
Early reports indicate the fire may have started within the store then spread to the roof, according to CFA’s district 24 operation manager Paul King.
CFA crews arrived at about 7.30pm to find fire already in the roof of the Beechworth IGA, which was well alight.
Firefighters prevented the fire from travelling into adjacent buildings, but were unable to save the interior of the supermarket.
Mr King said given the intensity of the blaze, it had not been safe for firefighters to enter the inside of the building and their efforts were hampered by the structure’s solid concrete construction.
“There was almost no access at all for firefighters to get water inside and onto the fire, which was extremely challenging – because of this the fire has burnt for a long time,” he said.
“This is a serious fire with big consequences for the community.”
Mr King said the exterior concrete structure remains intact though will be assessed for structural issues.
He thanked crews who travelled from as far away as Bendigo, Shepparton and Albury (NSW Rural Fire Service) to support local brigades with specialist equipment.
The Army Fire Service also assisted with water carrying capability.
Two ladder platform (aerial) trucks attended, along with 14 other firefighting appliances and five bulk water carriers, which transported water from a local lake to help fight the fire.
The fire investigation is ongoing.
A teenage girl arrested over the fire has been charged with criminal damage by arson by Wodonga detectives. She was remanded in custody and will appear in court on Monday.
An arson chemist from Melbourne is on the way to Beechworth to inspect the scene later today and confirm the cause of the fire.
Glass can be heard shattering as fire units continue to tackle the blaze from the front of the store.
The internal store sprinkler system is active but is having little affect as the crowd watching the blaze grows to around 200 people.
Police have taken a teenage girl into custody in relation to the Beechworth IGA fire on Saturday night.
Due to the damage caused by the blaze, emergency personal at the scene are concerned about the structural integrity of the supermarket, saying it could damage the doctors surgery adjacent to it.
Dozens of onlookers gathered in the streets to watch the Country Fire Authority units that battled the blaze for more than two-and-a-half hours.
There was a fire that preceded the IGA incident, occurring in Main Street.
Incident controller Adrian Gutsche said it is only a matter of time until the building comes down such is the damage from the fire.
“We have managed to stop the spread of the fire, but there is still a significant risk due to substances such as oil, alcohol and household cleaning products as part of the blaze,” Mr Gutsche said.
Back up from Bendigo has arrived at the scene as around 100 firefighters, 15 trucks and a growing number of onlookers take in the emergency.
District 23 and 24 fire units are at the scene along with assistance from NSW with flames visible from Loch Street as a chemical smell fills the air.
Fire fighters are tackling what is believed to be a deliberately lit fire at Richie's IGA, which started about 7.30pm, less than 2km from where Opera in the Alps at Beechworth Golf Course.
Loch, Ford and Camp streets are closed in the vicinity of the fire and power outages are occurring in the area.
There are no staff inside the building, however, loud noises could be heard from inside as the fire took hold.
More to come.