Fire broke out in a shopping centre at Mona Vale in the early hours.

Shortly after 3.30am this morning (Saturday, 19 August), Fire and Rescue NSW Mona Vale Station responded to a fire alarm that had been triggered in the Bungan Court Shopping Centre at Waratah Street, Mona Vale.

The Shopping Centre contains an Aldi supermarket, a toy shop, a TAB, two nail salons, medical and dental practices and a pizza restaurant.

On arrival, firefighters saw the premises were smoke-logged and called for additional firefighters from Avalon and Narrabeen Stations to attend.

NSW police attend a Fire at Mona Vale shops

Officers from Northern Beaches Police Area Command also attended the incident scene, closing off Bungan Street between Mona Vale Road and Waratah Street.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

Initially the smoke appeared to be coming from Beaches XRAY, and firefighters in breathing apparatus made entry to search for the source of the smoke.

After a quick search, they found the smoke was coming through from the neighbouring restaurant, Caruso’s Woodfired Pizzeria, and gained entry.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

The source of the smoke was a pizza oven, with firefighters locating the fire in an exhaust flue.

The building’s automated sprinkler system effectively prevented any spread of fire, but was putting large amounts of water through the premises.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

Firefighters disengaged the sprinkler system and attacked the fire with a hose line connected to street hydrants, and CO2 extinguishers.

They were able to access the flue and had the fire completely extinguished just before 4.30am, after which NSW Police reopened access to Bungan Street.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

A large quantity of smoke was trapped inside the building, affecting a number of the premises on the upper level, and firefighters used a high pressure fan to ventilate the building.

Ausgrid attended the incident scene to turn off power to the building.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

A very large quantity of water was also released into the building, much of it from the sprinkler system, which did an effective job of suppressing the fire but will have resulted in significant water damage to most of the businesses on the upper level.

Fire at Mona Vale shops

Firefighters used squeegee mops to remove most of the water from the premises, and the building manager arrived on-site and used a cleaning machine to also remove as much water as possible.

Water pooling inside Aldi Mona Vale after sprinklers suppressed a fire in the building

As deliveries began to arrive at the Aldi supermarket however, it was apparent that water ingress had occurred, with pools of water visible through the window inside the store.

It is unlikely many of the businesses in the shopping centre, including the supermarket, will be fully operational today.

Firefighters at the scene said that while the exact cause of the fire was not yet known, they would be looking at whether there had been build up within the exhaust flue that had ignited.

NSW Ambulance paramedics attended but no injuries were reported. The building was reportedly unoccupied at the time of the incident.

Updated 5.30pm Saturday, 19 August 2023:

Most of the shops at Bungan Court Shopping Centre, Waratah Street, Mona Vale, managed to reopen today after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning. With the exception of the Italian restaurant Caruso’s Woodfired Pizzeria and the toy store Kidstuff, other commercial premises on the upper level (Level 3) were back in operation today.

The doors to Caruso’s Woodfired Pizzeria were closed, and Kidstuff had a notice pinned to their front entrance saying they were closed today due to water damage but aim to reopen their doors tomorrow (Sunday, 20 August).

The TAB was up and running today, with extra noise from blowers and dehumidifiers. The two nail salons on the upper level, Diva Nails & Beauty Service plus Northern Star Nails, were also operational, with the former saying there had been some water come in from the rear of the store, but they were otherwise okay.

The damage to other properties is less certain at this point, and water damage to expensive imaging equipment in the Beaches XRAY premises directly next to the pizzeria is unknown. Any damage to Little Smiles Family Dental is also unknown.

Aldi was fully operational with the exception of lighting in the first aisle as the result of some electrical issues.

Specialist disaster recovery cleaners Steamatic were brought in this morning to restore the premises back to operation. One of the specialist cleaners said while they could help the businesses to reopen, so much water had been involved, it was likely floorboards would warp and crack, and walls may have wicked up moisture, creating possible mould issues that will need to be dealt with.

Images and video: Northern Beaches Advocate

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