Huge fire at Silverstream McDonald's is extinguished
The fire at McDonald's in Silverstream, in Upper Hutt, has been extinguished.
A fire communications spokeswoman confirmed the blaze was put out around 9pm on Friday.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, thick clouds of smoke could be seen across the Hutt Valley. Trains were stopped because of the blaze, and the road outside the restaurant was shut.
Evening rush-hour traffic was congested along State Highway 2, near the exit to Silverstream, as a result.
Christine Hast, who works at St Patrick's College opposite McDonald's, said at the fire's peak there was smoke billowing out of the building.
Workers from the restaurant came over to the school and to warn students not to go there, she said.
Fire services were called to building just after 2pm on Friday. By about 3pm, a dozen fire engines were at the site, with a number of onlookers watching.
Fire communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said the building was left "severely damaged". There were no injuries.
Assistant area commander Esitone Pauga said when crews arrived there was a fire in the roof, and the restaurant was smoke-logged.
Fergusson Dr had been blocked off while crews fought the blaze, which was largely under control by 3.30pm.
Fire safety officers would investigate the cause of the fire, which did not immediately appear suspicious, Pauga said.
McDonald's issued a statement soon after 3pm, saying: "A fire was reported at McDonald's Silverstream early on Friday afternoon. The restaurant was evacuated and there were no injuries to customers or staff.
"The fire service is now in attendance. At this stage there are no further details to share."
Glennis Hill was driving past with her husband when she noticed what looked dust in the air.
"We were driving past and I thought it saw dust, then I realised it was coming out of McDonald's," she said.
"I could see the staff were in the car park, I knew it must have been on fire."
Hill said she had spoken to the owner, who was relieved nobody had been hurt.
She said the man also owned the Upper Hutt McDonald's, where a man drew a gun on staff last year before being shot by police.
"He also owns the one in the Upper Hutt, where the shooting was. Now he has got this incident to deal with."
Silverstream Panelbeaters worker Peter Stewart said he could hardly believe it when people continued to fill up their cars at a Mobil petrol station between his workshop and the burning McDonald's.
"When I saw it, I thought 'Oh shit'. They'll be going home early for a beer, but it didn't happen.
"People were still filling up with petrol, and they were down that end [closest to the fire]. I thought you've got to be joking."
The flames rose higher than the gas station canopy as the back of the McDonald's roof, near the drive-through,collapsed.
"It was just smouldering away then it picked up again as the fire brigade arrived then it started roaring away.
"Maybe those stations are more fireproof than you think."
Staff closed the station as firefighters blocked off the road.
St Pat's students and others gathered near the school fence across the road, Stewart said. "The school kids were watching – they're probably the biggest customers at this time of day.
"$1 frozen Cokes in this weather. But I guess there won't be any more of those for a while."
MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray said the firefighters were working in 27-degree heat, but there was little wind to fuel flames.
"It was pretty dry up there, with little cloud."