THE newly renovated Royal Hotel could easily have been reduced to a pile of smouldering rubble after an arsonist targeted the multi-million dollar watering hole in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Queanbeyan Fire Brigade was called to the scene at about 4.30am, and was able to quickly extinguish a fire in the Hansen Yuncken construction office on the ground floor of the hotel, adjacent to the restaurant.
The site office was gutted by the blaze, however fire crews were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to the rest of the building.
Manager Adrian Sandrey said he was grateful for the brigade’s quick response to the fire, which saved the hotel. ‘‘If that had taken hold, it would have been bye bye pub,’’ Mr Sandrey said.
‘‘After the amount of work we’ve put in to this and the amount of community support we’ve had, it could have been all over just as we’re getting up and going,’’ he said.
Queanbeyan detectives are treating the fire as suspicious, and are seeking information in regard to a male of stocky build, 170 to 175 centimetres tall and wearing dark, winter clothes seen in the area at the time.
The estimated damage to the site office is estimated at about $40,000 and includes lost plans, files and computer equipment.
Meanwhile, progress at the Royal Hotel remains on track despite the fire, and Mr Sandrey hopes to open the new restaurant dining room today.