A firefighter fell through the floor at Wellington's Backbencher pub while battling a fire which broke out after what appeared to be a welding accident this afternoon.
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.
The crew member fell through a weakened floor, and suffered minor injuries and abrasions.
The fire was contained to a 15m by 15m area on the ground floor and the interior was badly blackened.
"It's most likely more smoke damage then fire damage," 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."
In June, a fire took hold of the politically-themed Molesworth St pub and restaurant causing major damage to the kitchen and interior.
Boyce said the pub was scheduled to reopen in February. He hoped that would still happen. It had already been stripped and cleared "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 gathered outside the pub, which is across the road from parliament.
Witness Ketan Magan said he was at work in a meeting when he and colleagues saw a large amount of smoke billowing from the building.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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