Police cordon off Op Shop after midnight fire
UPDATE, 10.50am: POLICE are treating a fire which destroyed a section of the Anglican Op Shop in Grafton as suspicious.
The fire is believed to have started between midnight and 12.30am today at the rear of the building, which is fenced off with a 2m chain mail fence and locked gate.
Shop staff said there may have been some books stored and bags of rags at the back of the shop which could have been used to start a fire.
The Dean of Grafton, the Very Reverend Donald Kirk, said the fire destroyed the "breezeway" at the back of the building and the op shop kitchen.
It also destroyed an air conditioning unit attached to the neighbouring Edwards Hall. Rev Kirk said the unit exploded as fire brigade crews fought the blaze.
Brigade members told him thermal imaging of the roof revealed the fire had not got into the roof, but smoke had filled the building.
Rev Kirk said the diocese was lucky it had installed a back to base alarm in the building.
"The security company said the intruder alert went off first, then all the other alarms went off a minute later," he said.
"They said 'fire' and called the fire brigade straight away."
Rev Kirk arrived at the scene at 12.25am about the same time as the fire brigade. He said the fire brigade contained the blaze to the back of the building, but thick smoke filled the building and damaged most of the clothing in the shop.
Anglican Diocese administrator Roger Millard estimated there was between $40,000 and $50,000 worth of stock in the building, which is insured for structural damage and its consequences.
"It's happened at a bad time for us," he said. "Because of the race carnival it's the busiest time of the year for us. "We've been turning over more than $2000 a week."
Mr Millard said staff had been putting together a display of racing outfits for sale, but had not been able to see if it had been damaged.
"The forensic police said the staff's washing machines are going to be busy in the next few days," he said.
Rev Kirk said the diocese will look at opening the op shop in Edwards Hall, once the damage to stock had been assessed and the extent of the damage was known.
Detective Sergeant Graham Burke said it was early days in the investigation. Forensic police were due to arrive some time today to look for fingerprint evidence and other clues.
EARLIER: AN overnight fire has ripped through the Grafton Anglican Op-Shop on Fitzroy Street.
Emergency services responded to the blaze last night and contained it to the one building before extinguishing the flames.
Police remain on scene today conducting further investigations.
According to reports there is major damage to the building and stock contained within it.
The Daily Examiner has a reporter on the scene and will be updating the story as the day continues.