A fire has gutted a truck and prematurely cooked thousands of prime Horowhenua vegetables bound for a cruise ship in Auckland.

A Genoese foods employee was alerted to the KPH transport truck fire at 3.30pm yesterday, when a passing car stopped and its driver came running in to tell her.

"I think all the staff jumped on the phones to call the fire brigade," she said.

"When we went out to see the truck, thick black smoke was billowing out, I could hear the windows cracking and the tyres exploding."

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Worried that the truck itself would explode, catching the Genoese building on fire, they evacuated, watching from the safety of a neighbouring paddock.

After the fire while being towed away, oil tank burst leaking oil across SH1 in Levin.
After the fire while being towed away, oil tank burst leaking oil across SH1 in Levin.

"Two fire trucks arrived and the rural tanker. They put it out so fast," she said.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Carl Beissel said that fire safety investigated and found the fire had started in the refrigerator's cooling units on top of the truck.

He said it was extinguished within 20 minutes.

Levin's B S Young vegetable grower Nigel Sue said he had only loaded the vegetables half an hour earlier and the truck had barely started its journey, parked up 500m from his property waiting to swap drivers.

He said it was while working in the field across from where the trucks park up to change drivers, that he noticed the smoke and heard the fire brigade.

Thousands of vegetables rotting in the sun after a fire that rampaged through a delivery truck, ruining the produce.
Thousands of vegetables rotting in the sun after a fire that rampaged through a delivery truck, ruining the produce.

"I saw the truck on fire and rang the trucking company to make sure they weren't cooking our broccoli before it reached Auckland, and apparently they were," he said.

Mr Sue said that though it was only a fraction of what they produce, the trucking company was insured, however it meant losing the sale to a competitor.

"We don't generally expect fires, but it's just one of those things.

"It's a bit of a bugger because another grower would have grabbed the business and it's hard to get back into the market," he said.

He said that the fire had burnt and smoked out 6000 heads of broccoli and 1200 bunches of celery, worth approximately $9000.

He said the quantity was nothing and they produce the equivalent every day.

"It wouldn't even be one per cent of our broccoli crops," he said.

"I'm just relieved there was no one in the truck."

Mr Sue said that he had to ring the suppliers and let them know so they could get broccoli from somewhere else to fulfil their order for the cruise ship.

"They were disappointed but when things like this happen, there is not much you can do," he said.

On Friday, one disaster was followed by another when the burnt-out KPH Transport truck's oil tank cracked open, while being hauled away.

The oil spilled over SH1 in front of Salt and Pepper cafe, almost causing a ute to slide in front of traffic, confirmed by Constable Nathan Daly.

The oil spill was covered in sand by Higgins to prevent more vehicles from slipping.