FIRE DESTROYS ALL
By CRAIG McTEAR
FIRE may have ravaged Margaret Bonfield's business, but it hasn't destroyed her spirit.
The wedding and events decorator had a frantic call at 6pm on Wednesday to say her Special Occasions Wedding Decorators headquarters in Coffs Harbour's June Street was on fire.
"I came to watch the flames and watch it burn," Margaret said yesterday.
As fire crews from Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga and Sawtell battled the inferno, she desperately hoped something could be salvaged, but the ferocious flames claimed everything.
"I wanted my family near me. I wanted people close to me. Twenty years of my work was burning," she said.
"I could identify with people who have lost their homes. It was a shocking feeling to put my head in their space.
"I felt helpless, but the more important thing was people were safe. I was in disbelief that this could happen. How could it happen?
"But the business is me, it's not the equipment. I can easily rebuild."
Margaret has a wedding to cater for today at Aanuka Beach Resort, a commitment she will fulfill despite the devastation, which is expected to run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Nothing has been cancelled. I have made contingencies and I can continue to supply my clients," she said.
"I will have to lease a vehicle and obviously I can get product.
"If I have a commitment my professionalism kicks in and I can make it happen for them. I can deliver today, tomorrow and the next day, but it's going to be tricky and more demanding."
Detectives said preliminary investigations had revealed no suspicious circumstances and no signs of forced entry, and that the fire appeared to have started in a rear office.
Endrust, Jon Wilson Canvas and Shade, and Nortred Discount Tyres, all of which are housed in the same complex, had their fair share of damage, but came off lightly compared to Special Occasions Wedding Decorators.
The building is owned by the Borsato family, and Sas Borsato was helping to clean up yesterday. He said no decision had yet been made on the building's future.
Nortred proprietor Wayne Rogerson was leaving work two doors down from Special Occasions at 5.30pm on Wednesday when he heard cracking and popping noises.
"I saw flames coming out above the air-conditioner and had a look and thought 'Oh my God'," he said.
"I unlocked my door, rang 000 and grabbed a fire hose. A young fella helped me.
"When the smoke got too much, we retreated. Thank God I was here to raise the alarm.
"From the time I went out and saw the flames through the window to a couple of minutes later when I went back, it was accelerating so fast. It was terrifying."
Wayne feared his pride and joy, a Capella RX2 historic touring car, would go up in smoke, but thankfully the flames never reached his premises.