Massive fire starts with explosion

10:49, Aug 17 2014
Opunake Surf Inn fire
Opunake fire chief Rodney Woods in the Surf Inn's kitchen, where he said the fire started.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
More than 20 firefighters from around the region spent two hours battling the blaze.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
Staff who were in the kitchen when the fire started wait outside.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
Opunake volunteer firefighter Colin Andrews at the scene.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
Matt Crabtree from the fire service talks to the owner of Surf Inn.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Opunake Surf Inn fire
One eye-witness said they heard an explosion before seeing smoke pouring from the back of the building.

More than 20 firefighters from around the region spent two hours battling a blaze at a coastal Taranaki bar and restaurant this afternoon.

Opunake fire chief Rodney Woods said the fire at the Opunake Surf Inn started about midday in the kitchen.

Staff from the Opunake Surf Inn were in the kitchen at the time.

"Thankfully, everyone managed to evacuate safety," Woods said. 

"We are very lucky we got the fire under control and managed to check upstairs as well."

He said the blaze was attended by five fire engines, from Opunake, Kaponga, Rahotu and Manaia, and about 24 volunteer firefighters. 

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Eye witness Nigel Carter was having a coffee across the road at the time.

"Then these clouds of smoke started pouring out the back of the building," Carter said. 

"There was lots of smelly, black, dark smoke pouring through the upper windows too. I would say the place is wrecked.

"The locals were all watching and were quite interested because the place was actually on the market."

Woods urged people to install fire alarms and check them regularly. 

"People aren't always around when fires start. Fire alarms save lives. It's as simple as that."

The cause of the fire is now under investigation, Woods said. 

The investigation will take about a week.

Taranaki Daily News