Suspicious fire destroys juice factory on day of auction

A SUSPICIOUS fire has destroyed a warehouse at the site of the Summertime Fruit Juice company on the Kidman Way, causing damage believed to be as high as $1 million.

A SUSPICIOUS fire has destroyed a warehouse at the site of the Summertime Fruit Juice company on the Kidman Way, causing damage believed to be as high as $1 million.

A SUSPICIOUS fire has destroyed parts of a juice factory on the Kidman Way, causing damage believed to be as high as $1 million.

Police said patrolling officers spotted the blaze at Summertime Fruit Juice just after midnight today, Tuesday.

Griffith Fire and Rescue captain Kevin Roth said fire crews battled for over an hour to contain the fire, successfully saving nearby buildings and machinery.

However, the blaze completely destroyed one of the warehouse buildings, which was used to store pallets of soft-drinks.

Police said the fire, which started at the rear of the factory site, is being treated as suspicious and officers are appealing for information from anyone who may have been in the vicinity of Kidman Way late on Monday night.

"Kidman Way is a major heavy-vehicle thoroughfare, and we're particularly interested in hearing from truck drivers who passed through overnight and may have seen something odd or suspicious," Griffith Local Area Command Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Paul Smith, said.

"Even the smallest piece of information could be vital to our investigation, and we urge people to contact police via Crime Stoppers or directly to Griffith Police," Det Insp Smith said.

In June this year Summertime Fruit Juice, which was run by Private Branded Beverages Limited - together with its subsidiaries Rose River Beverages and Summertime Asset Management - went bust after leaving workers in limbo for months.

The factory has since been under the control of PPB Advisory, the firm responsible for the administration and liquidation of Summertime Fruit Juice's assets.

Director of PPB Advisory, Barry Wight, said all of the equipment in the factory was set to be auctioned off yesterday morning.

"The liquidators are aware that a fire recently occurred at the Summertime Fruit Juice premises. Feedback to date suggests the damage has been contained to the rear of the building," Mr Wight said. 

"An auction of the beverage manufacturing plant and equipment was scheduled to be held on site , however, this has been postponed for safety reasons. 

"The liquidators are continuing to assess the damage to the building and liaising with local authorities regarding the incident."

The Area News understands PPB Advisory was ready to instruct real estate agents to begin advertising the sale of the property but those plans were being reassessed. 

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Police are urging anyone with information about this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Griffith Police on 02 6969 4299, or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page www1.police.nsw.gov.au.

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