Fire fighters took 30 minutes to battle a fire which appears to have started in the Flagstaff Bakehouse kitchen and spread to the neighbouring roast shop.
The fire service received the call at about 5.10pm and within minutes nine appliances from Hamilton and 24 fire fighters were working on containing the fire before it spread to other shops in the Flagstaff shopping centre.
Flagstaff Cafe and Sports Bar manager Kathleen Ngahiwi heard an alarm in the bakery just after 5pm and went out the back of the shop but the owners were not around. She then went to the front and through the shop window saw waist high flames coming from kitchen area.
"I came running back here and called 111."
She said the owner of the bakery arrived shortly after the fire fighters and did not realise it was his shop at first.
"The poor guy... He said what happened and I said, "It's your shop mate."
Waikato Assistant Fire Area Commander Darryl Papesch said fire fighters arrived to a fire coming out back of the bakehouse which had also spread to the Wiltshire Roast Shop.
They had to break the bakery door down to enter the premises as they did not have a key.
"That (the roast shop) was mainly full of smoke so we ventilated it with fans."
Both shops were smoke damaged, but the fire walls prevented it spreading to the nearby supermarket, takeaway, bar and liquor store. The power was also only turned off at the roast shop and liquor store and the other shops remained open.
Super Liquor manager Parul Parihar said she first saw thick black smoke and when she went to the rear of the shop spotted flames also coming from the roast shop.
"I was working here. I saw smoke coming up. There was smoke all around. It was even coming into our shop." A worker was trying to put the flames out with water and just when they thought they had them under control they flared again and the fire service took over.
Flagstaff SuperValue worker Chirag Dodia said he originally thought it was a joke when a regular customer told him there was a fire so to be careful. But he looked out the door and saw fire. "It was big enough." He said while his shop and remained undamaged, they thought it was safer to stay outside.
The cause of the fire is unknown and fire safety investigators are now onsite to try and determine how it started.