Businesses destroyed in blaze

Romy Roache of Romy Photography outside the remains of a restaurant fire on Gilbert Street, Torquay. (Jena Carr) 401873_01

By Jena Carr

Three shop owners affected by a restaurant fire in Torquay have spoken out about the “devastating” incident that burnt their businesses to the ground.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) was called to a fire on Gilbert Street at 11.22pm on Sunday, April 14, which destroyed six shops, including McCartney Real Estate, Looop, and Romy Photography studio.

Romy Photography’s Romy Roache said she could recover some of her stock but did not have insurance to cover the damage due to a lack of demand for photos and cost of living pressures.

“I had no words to say. I just looked at my husband Phil and I wrapped my arms around him, said ‘OK’ and jumped in the car,” she said.

“One minute you have your business, and the next minute you don’t…I don’t think anyone thinks that they’ll wake up the next morning and won’t have a shop front.

“We came down and saw everybody gathered and everything fenced off. I could see how bad it was without actually seeing my shop, but the front ones looked so horrific.”

Looop co-owner Fiona McPherson said she was “devastated” when she heard of the fire’s destruction and that she and co-owner Sue Ingpen had lost everything.

“We lost our whole livelihoods as all of Sue’s stock and my stock were in the shop, so it has been completely incinerated,” she said.

“As a single parent with two kids, I have another job…which is good, but I know Sue has to repurchase wool to be able to keep her business going as that’s her only income.”

McCartney Real Estate director Tim Carson said the only damage caused by the fire was to the property, and everyone was safe.

“The Torquay community and emergency services have been amazing, and we can’t fault them,” he said.

“The staff and team have been absolutely fantastic…and everyone will work from home for the time being.”

Italo’s Wood Fired Pizza, Silver and Sea jewellery store, and Imelda’s Boutique were also damaged in the fire.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Romy Photography, and people can donate by visiting

Keep up to date with Looop’s progress and upcoming events, such as store pop-ups through Instagram at @we_are_looop

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit