Firefighters have quelled a blaze in central Queenstown that has badly damaged a pizza restaurant and bar.
Sergeant Steve Watt said it appeared the fire started in the kitchen of the downstairs Fat Badger pizza restaurant at about 3.30pm.
Queenstown, Frankton and Arrowtown fire crews were quickly on the scene but it became well involved, with flames leaping from the windows of the World Bar upstairs from the Fat Badger.
Smoke billowed across town from the wooden building as dozens of Shotover St businesses were evacuated and hundreds of people lined the street watching the action.
World Bar marketing manager Chris Barnhart said everyone inside the building escaped safely.
Retail assistant Kel said she saw "huge plumes of smoke" from about 1km away at the Queenstown Gardens and went to see what was happening. She was devastated to see the World Bar in flames.
"It's a big iconic bar. It does a lot of good for the commnuity. It will be felt by the whole community.
"The fire guys have done an amazing job of containing it because it was a really big fire."
Watt said it was too early to say how many buildings were affected but it was believed some neighbouring offices could also be badly smoke damaged.
The cause of the fire was yet to be determined but the wooden frame contributed to the flames.
"I think the dry timber framing certainly added fuel to the fire but the fire guys are doing a good job to try and bring it under control."
- The Southland Times
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