ACT News


Ducts probed as New Acton fire inquiry rises

The ACT Coroner's Court has finished taking evidence in the inquiry into a fire which swept through the heritage-listed New Acton pavilion last year.

The court rose this afternoon after hearing five days of evidence.

The parties now have several weeks to present written submissions to Chief Coroner Lorraine Walker before findings are delivered.

The June 23 blaze destroyed Flint restaurant, Parlour Wine Room and upstairs office space.

Bicicletta restaurant and the Diamant Hotel were also damaged.

The inquest heard the fire started in the exhaust ductwork attached to Flint's pizza oven.


And a key fire safeguard, a spray filter designed to cool hot embers, was inactive at the time of the blaze.

A lack of cleaning access panels in the ductwork has also become a central issue, with witnesses testifying panels marked on the original design were not actually present.

Investigations in the aftermath of the fire showed material in the ducts, prompting fears there may have been fuel to feed the fire.

But the commercial cleaner who worked on the ducts a day or two before the fire this afternoon said he pulled out one or two garbage bags of charcoal and fat.

John Hawke, from Southern Rejuvenators, said he cleaned 75 per cent of the ductwork thoroughly, but the remainder was problematic.

He said the size of the panels made it harder for him and his staff to see into the ductwork, and they had to use poles and scrapers to finish the job.

Mr Hawke agreed it was "possible" combustible material was left accumulated in the duct, but he believed "all the thick charred stuff was off the duct work".

He also told the court there were "definitely" fewer access panels on the ductwork than he would have expected, and he raised the panel issues with restaurant bosses.