Huge blaze in central Christchurch

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 23:06 07/12/2012

The morning after High Street fire

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Firefighters were battling two blazes in central Christchurch.

Assistant area commander for the Christchurch Metro area Steve Kennedy said a massive fire broke out in a three-storey building next to the McKenzie & Willis building at the corner of Tuam and High St about 9.20pm.

Eight fire trucks are on the scene. A fire command unit has been set up at the scene.

Police are helping set up cordons nearby. Kennedy said the fire service received multiple calls but there were no reports of anyone within the building.

It was red-stickered after the quake.

''It was totally involved when we got here,'' he said.

The building partially collapsed about 10.25pm, with a loud roar.

Flames were shooting about 10 metres into the air above the building. Plumes of smoke rose high above the north-east of the central city as the fire raged.

Kennedy said all the firefighting was from the outside because they could not go into the building. They would likely be on the site much of the night.

An engineer was only at the scene to advise on safety.

At this stage, there was no idea of the cause.

''We're talking about empty buildings with no power on,'' Kennedy said.

Witness Liberty Parsons said the blaze was "massive".

"I was driving down Tuam St, so right next to it basically. There was smoke for blocks."

Smoke and flames were shooting metres into the air, she said.

Meanwhile four fire trucks are battling a blaze in a building on Moorhouse Ave near Antigua St. However that fire is not as large.

- With Paul Easton

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