THE owner of popular Circle Coffee House in New Norfolk is facing a huge clean up and loss of business after a deliberately lit fire ripped through the building on Saturday evening.
A neighbouring business was also damaged by smoke and heat damage. A visibly shaken and distressed cafe owner Penny Wallner, who has operated the business for 31/2 years, said she was devastated as she surveyed the damage on Sunday morning.
Ms Wallner said the cafe was her livelihood. “I don’t know when we will get access to the building and I don’t know how long it will take to clean up,’’ Ms Wallner said. She vowed to reopen “bigger and better’’ as soon as possible and assured staff would be looked after in the meantime. In a post on social media late on Sunday, the cafe expressed their gratitude for the support they had received.
“There are no words to express our appreciation for all the love and support that we have had flowing in over the past couple of days,’’ they wrote. “We are absolutely gutted with what has happened. “This won’t beat us we will be back bigger and better. “We would like to thank the Police and Tas Fire for everything they did to save what is left of our business.’’
The cafe closed at 1pm on Saturday and by 5.15pm Ms Wallner was getting calls about a blaze. Police and fire services arrived at the Circle Street site, next door to the Ambulance Station, at 5.20pm. “On arrival, one business was ablaze and adjacent businesses have sustained significant damage,’’ a police spokesperson said.
“Multiple units from Tasmania Fire Service attended and extinguished the fire. “The cause of the fire is undetermined at this stage and a fire investigator will attend the scene on Sunday to make an assessment. “Police are investigating the circumstances of the fire and wish to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the fire or have witnessed anyone acting suspicious at the time of the fire.’’
They thanked members of local community who have already come forward with what they said was valuable information. Anyone with information is asked to call crimestoppers 1800 333 000.