Blaze destroys Currumbin shops

By LUIS FELIU

CURRUMBIN couple Allan and Yvonne Atkins could only watch in despair as the boat-hire business they had owned for only four months was gutted early yesterday morning by a ferocious blaze.

The fire, believed to have been deliberately lit, destroyed five other businesses in the building on Currumbin Creek just after 1am.

The couple were asleep in their home above their boat-hire/kiosk at Thrower Drive when Mr Atkins was woken by loud noises.

"I saw the flames from my bedroom window and kicked my wife out of bed and we both ran out and called 000," he said.

"I grabbed a hose and started to wet it down but it didn't do too much, I then pushed a boat out of the shed while the building was still burning so the firefighters could get in and fight the fire, but there was nothing they could do either.

"It was arson for sure, they lit three fires - there was a tree on fire, a rubbish bin and they pushed a four-wheel-drive into the river," Mr Atkins said.

"They're not going to stop me ... I'll be back in business by Sunday morning, with a pontoon selling papers and boat hire - what else can you do?"

Mrs Atkins said she was a heavy sleeper and if her husband had not woken her "I wouldn't be here today".

The Atkins bought the Gecko Party Pontoons and Boat Shed Boat Hire and kiosk business four months ago after moving to the Gold Coast from Brisbane.

Mr Atkins, a former rural firefighter in Victoria, had never himself been a victim of fire and said he was unsure if his business was insured, but would have to check with his broker.

"We've lost all our paperwork and records, computers, fax machine, personal stuff - it's all gone, but we'll rebuild, it'll just take time," he said.

Owner of the building, Debbie Walden, who operates the adjoining Boat Shed Bar and Restaurant, said she was shattered but wanted to rebuild and re-open the popular eatery she has run for four years.

Other affected businesses include a hairdressing and beauty salon, real-estate agency and bait and tackle shop. Police are treating the fire as suspicious and have appealed for witnesses.



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