Auckland Countdown to remain closed for another month after chip aisle fire

The blaze broke out on May 6.
The blaze broke out on May 6. Photo credit: Supplied

A west Auckland supermarket will remain closed until mid-June due to damage caused by a fire in the chip aisle earlier this month. 

The blaze, at the Countdown in WestCity Waitākere mall in Henderson, broke out shortly before 8:30pm on Thursday, May 6. Photos from the incident show a section of the chip aisle engulfed in flames. 

Fire and Emergency NZ said about 60 firefighters battled the "significant" blaze. A police spokesperson last week confirmed a 19-year-old had been charged with arson and shoplifting in relation to the fire. 

In a statement on Monday, Countdown Henderson store manager Kulo Sivapatham said there was "a lot more" damage than initially thought. 

"We've been working to understand the fire, smoke and water damage, salvage as much food and groceries to give away as we can and tidy up the store," he explained.

"Unfortunately there's a lot more damage than we first thought, and it's going to take us a bit longer than we had originally expected to fix it." 

Sivapatham confirmed the store would remain closed until at least mid-June. 

"For the next five weeks or so, the store will remain closed as we work to make sure it's ready to welcome you back in mid-June. 

"Our awesome Henderson team will either be helping as we get the store back up and running, or working in other local Countdown stores over the next few weeks." 

He added salvaged stock has been given away to those in need: "Already, we've been able to clear the stock from the store and we've been working with our local food rescue partner, Fair Food, to donate food that is safe to Auckland families in need." 

Michael Haturini, the 19-year-old charged over the fire, denied he was the one who set fire to the chips in a court appearance last week. 

His lawyer said Haturini's friend acted alone in causing the blaze.