A historic store and garden centre have been damaged in two separate lower North Island fires today.
Firefighters were called to the Pauatahanui General Store - built in 1861 - about 11.30am, while staff attended to a blaze at Masterton's Garden Barn about 30 minutes later.
The store, on Paekakariki Hill Rd northeast of Porirua, has been badly damaged.
Porirua senior fire station officer Barry Murphy said the blaze started in a deep frying vat in the back of the building and spread to the roof.
It took firefighters about 40 minutes to bring it under control.
The building owners were visibly upset and declined to comment.
Meanwhile, an eyewitness said a shed at the Garden Barn was what initially caught fire.
"There's black smoke pouring, pouring, pouring out of it and flames as well. They are putting quite a bit of water on it so it must be quite a large a building."
Fire service spokesman Murray Dunbar said 20 firefighters and five fire trucks atttended the scene.
The fire has since been extinguished.
Fire safety officers will investigate the blazes.
- The Dominion Post