A firefighter fell through the floor fighting a fire at the Backbencher this afternoon, which started from a gas cutting mishap.
Senior station officer and incident controller Brett Lockyer said the fire began on the ground floor and spread to the basement during work involving a plasma or gas cutter tool.
It was believed the tool was being used to cut up old beer kegs.
One firefighter had fallen through the weakened floor, suffering minor injuries and abrasions.
The fire had been contained to a 15mx15m area on the ground floor and the interior was badly blackened.
"It's most likely more smoke damage then fire damage," Mr Lockyer said.
Backbencher managing director Alistair Boyce said he was inside working alongside a group of contractors when the fire started.
"They tried to fight it ... and then just had to get out.
"I saw the billowing smoke and thought ... this is pretty bad. I couldn't believe it. The last thing we wanted was a fire."
Mr Boyce said the pub was scheduled to open in February. He hoped that would still happen.
The pub had already been stripped and cleared of the bar "so hopefully there's not a lot of damage that can happen".
Nine fire engines attended the fire, including one aerial (cherry picker) unit.
A large crowd of onlookers had gathered during the fire, with the parliament buildings directly opposite the pub.
In June, a fire took hold of the politically-themed Molesworth St pub and restaurant causing major damage to the kitchen and interior.
The pub had been under refurbishment and had this very recently announced it would re-open in February 2013.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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