RESIDENTS of Cunningham Stage 3 in Suva were rudely awoken yesterday to find a church hall earmarked as a polling station in flames.
The fire destroyed the wooden Vunidakua Methodist Church hall, which was to cater for 500 people during the September election.
Strong winds fanned the fire aS residents watched haplessly.
Part of the group that could not do anything to save the hall were two Ministry of Health nurses who held medical clinics at the hall every Monday.
Salome Yavala, of Cunningham, said she was sad to see what members of the Vunidakua Church had fundraised for over the years burn down in a matter of minutes.
Speaking in the iTaukei language, she said the hall had been there since she was born and now that she had her own family, the hall was sort of a landmark feature for those visiting Cunningham.
National Fire Authority CEO John O'Connor confirmed his team received a call at 10.05am and fire teams from Suva and Nasinu responded immediately.
"When the teams arrived at the scene, the house was fully engulfed with flames so our priority was to contain the fire," Mr O'Connor said.
Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to a wooden house behind the hall.