There has been an outpouring of support for a Newcastle business after fire severely damaged a popular bar and restaurant in the early hours of Thursday.
The blaze ripped through The Edwards, in Parry Street, just after midnight, with dozens of firefighters battling to extinguish it for more than three hours.
No-one was injured in the fire, which started soon after staff locked up for the night at about 11.30pm on Wednesday, police said.
Investigators were looking into the cause on Thursday, but police told the Newcastle Herald there were no “glaringly obvious” signs of suspicious circumstances.
Since it opened in 2014, The Edwards has become a popular fixture of Newcastle’s music, food and cultural scene. It’s owned by former Silverchair bassist Chris Joannou and his business partner Chris Johnston.
Mr Joannou’s family has owned the site for more than 20 years – it used to be a dry cleaning business.
The laundromat his parents David and Sue now own next door to the bar, restaurant and record store escaped damage in Thursday’s fire.
Louise Kipa, his sister, said the Edwards crew was “like a big family”. While no-one had been allowed inside the building when she spoke to the Herald on Thursday, she said the family had been told damage was “extensive”.
Ms Kipa said “everyone is really broken up” about the incident.
“It’s a big loss not just to us, but to the community,” she said.
In a message on social media on Thursday afternoon, management said they were “blown away by the love and support that has poured in from our beloved Newy and wider community – for this, words alone will never do, it’s all feels”.
“It will be a while before we know any of the things you might be wondering, so sit tight and we’ll get back to you when we can,” the message said.
“Special mention to the emergency services onsite last night who worked tirelessly to ensure there was zero injury and minimal damage to the neighbourhood. These guys are the real MVPs.”
Police used a drone on Thursday to survey damage to the roof, amid fears that it was structurally damaged. An Ausgrid representative was also at the scene to examine the premises.
Meanwhile, it appears that about 80,000 bees were collateral damage of the fire.
Newcastle business Urban Hum had three hives, containing between 50kg and 80kg of honey, on the roof of The Edwards when the fire struck.
Urban Hum co-owner Kelly Lees said it didn’t look good for the hives.
“It’s terrible, what’s happened,” she said. “I’d be surprised if they survived just with the heat and the amount of water that went on the roof, apparently.”
There were hundreds of messages of support for The Edwards on social media in the wake of the fire.
The well-wishes came from the likes of punters and other businesses and Newcastle venues such as The Greenroof, Foghorn Brewery and The Lucky as well as Knights legend Danny Buderus and Something For Kate frontman Paul Dempsey.
“Hope you guys can get back on your feet quickly,” Foghorn Brewery’s message said. “This city needs your great venue.”