Echuca store burns

ONE of Echuca's most popular stores burnt down in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Eighty firefighters, 11 trucks, an aerial platform

and a Bendigo pumper were needed to contain the fire, which started at 4am and was controlled by 6.50am.

The Echuca Heritage Sweet Company was in a

heritage overlay area and was more than 80 years old.

Fourteen guests were evacuated from the nearby

Steam Packet Inn and the south-bound side of the

busy High Street precinct was blocked off.

Electricity to the same block as the store was disconnected for more than two hours.

"There was a bit of damage to one of the adjoining

shops and a bit of heat damage to the other," CFA

incident controller Mark Hooper said.

"We are investigating the cause of the fire.

"We've narrowed it down to a few areas, but we have

evidence to believe the fire was not suspicious."

Demolition of the building began yesterday.

Fish In A Flash owner Paul Rowe, whose shop is

two doors down, said the scene was devastating.

"One doesn't expect a lollyshop to go up in flames

next to a fish and chip shop," he said.

"We came down to the scene after we received a

phone call at 5am. It was very dramatic.

"It was hectic, but controlled; the CFA were doing

their business in a calm way.

"The owners, Ken and Heather, were there and they were very upset."

Tourists Jude Hannon and Debbie Guertin, from Bilbul, NSW, said the Echuca Heritage Sweet Company was the first place they visited on their arrival.

"We bought so many things when we first visited

the store so we thought we'd come back the next

day," Jude said.

"But we arrived to see it had burnt down. It is so

upsetting; the place was absolutely amazing."

The Echuca Heritage Sweet Company was known for having Australia's largest lollipop.

A 1987 Mitsubishi Sigma also caught fire in Echuca at 2.35am yesterday morning.

The car caught fire in Watson Street outside the

owner's house.

Sen-Constable Foskett said the car was gutted.

"The cause of the fire is suspicious, but there is no link to the store fire."

"It is a coincidence considering both fires were so

close. It was fortunate the CFA were already there."

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