Twenty-five firefighters battled a blaze through thick smoke and flames at a Blenheim dairy early this morning.
Blenheim volunteer firefighters arrived just after 5am to find the rear half of On The Spot store in Budge St up in flames.
Blenheim chief fire officer Rob Dalton said four fire appliances and 25 firefighters, including a crew from Renwick, had the fire under control within half-an-hour.
A passing motorist had raised the alarm after seeing smoke and flames coming from the back of the building.
No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
The business owner had been on her way to work when she was called by a neighbour and told her shop was on fire, Mr Dalton said.
The building had been locked when firefighters arrived. They smashed a glass panel on the front door to get inside, he said.
The blaze appeared to have started in a storage area that contained paper and shelving in the rear of the brick building.
''Everything was all over the place,'' he said.
Flames did not reach the front half of the shop, however the whole building was damaged by heat and smoke, he said.
The building had a concrete drive on either side and was well clear of other houses.
''There was no danger of the fire spreading,'' Mr Dalton said.
Firefighters remained at the scene for more than two hours monitoring hotspots and making sure the blaze would not re-ignite.
Police and a fire investigator were at the scene this morning to determine the cause of the fire.
There was no indication at this stage the fire was suspicious, Mr Dalton said.
An elderly neighbour said he heard an alarm about 5am but assumed it was a false alarm. It wasn't until he heard the sirens that he went to look outside. He could see flames shooting out a back window, he said.
''There was so much smoke I couldn't see the house next door,'' he said.
A police spokeswoman said a neighbouring property that provides accommodation for workers was evacuated as a safety precaution.
Police were keen to speak to anyone who was in the Budge St area shortly before 5am today.
Anyone with information is asked to call Blenheim police on 03 578 5279 or phone Crimestoppers to give information anonymously on 0800 555 111.
- The Marlborough Express
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