Fire has ripped through an historic community centre in Christchurch.

Firefighters were called to the Risingholme Community Centre in Opawa shortly after 8pm yesterday, as a small fire spread very quickly through the building.

The centre was substantially damaged, with the roof of one wing collapsing.

Crews were rotated through the night, staying on site to dampen down hotspots this morning.

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Senior fire shift communications manager Darryl Ball said they did not yet know the cause.

He said it quickly took hold of the very old wooden structure and they needed around eight fire trucks.

A fire investigator will be on the scene today.