Inferno response

When a toxic fire broke out in Dunedin’s wharf district, towering flames light up the night sky and a plume of thick, acrid smoke drifted out into the Otago Harbour.

Seven appliances and more than 44 firefighters converged from across Dunedin to the blazing inferno engulfing the Bodyline Collision Panel and Paint building in Wharf St.

Pressured paint, paint thinner, and LPG canisters inside the warehouse caused a series of violent explosions, which along with the toxic gas made it too dangerous for fire crews to enter.

Bodyline’s owner and Crombie Lockwood client Sean Blair, reached the scene minutes behind the fire crews in time to see his all his hard work burn to the ground.

As reported by the Otago Daily Times, he was visibly upset and said: “I’m absolutely, just absolutely gutted. I spent 10 years building that business up.”

Sean is a member of MTA – a partner of Crombie Lockwood – but was referred to us directly via ANZ and is insured under the bank facility.

Amanda Kirk from our Dunedin office was on the scene within half an hour of the fire starting to comfort and advise him.   While fire crews battled the flames throughout the night and into the next day, she was on site with her client to ensure all was in hand. 

“That support is crucial not just in the moment, but in the days after. Sean was understandably in shock and it is our job to manage and explain the process to him, so he knows what to expect.

“In this instance that included notifying the claims team, arranging a staff meeting the next morning to let his employees know what the next steps were, holding his hand through the fire investigation interviews, and liaising with the legal advisers.  

It wasn’t just Sean who was in shock, his employees were worried about how it would affect them too, and we were able to reassure them that their tools and income were covered.”

Myles Noble who heads up our claims team was also quick to act that night, reserving Danie Keyser from Crawford’s Major Loss Team to assess the loss. Myles said: “With the limited loss adjuster resource across New Zealand it is imperative that we are able to secure our preferred loss adjusters before other parties (such as landlords) do. Crombie Lockwood were the first to introduce a truly 24/7 claims response and as in this claim we continue to deliver on our promise.”  

Fire investigators are still to determine the cause of the fire which has compromised the integrity of the buckled building and destroyed a number of vehicles parked inside and out in front. This included some ‘high value’ classic cars and an unfortunate Ford Mondeo parked outside the building which had melted.

Darren Munro, head of our Otago business, said: “It’s when events like this happen that we are truly put to the test.  Pre-event we were pro-active in making sure Sean had the right cover, and that all the proper systems were in place. He has already expressed to others how thankful and relieved he is that Crombie Lockwood is his broker and is now advocating on his behalf.

“This proves our locally focused, nationally resourced, and internationally endorsed network advantage works to our clients’ benefit.

“Above all, it feels really good to have kept our promise to the client and I’m proud of our response.”    

So, based on our deep understanding of his business Sean and Bodyline Collision Panel and Paint was positioned to financially survive the fire.  At a time when his livelihood was literally turning to ashes he had the peace of mind that Crombie Lockwood was working on his behalf and had put the necessary protections in place.