Fire crews are dampening down a large fire that threatened a block of flats in Christchurch this morning.

Fire Service southern shift manager Lyn Crosson said a rear unit in the two-storey block in Rutherford St, Woolston was gutted in the early morning blaze.

Firefighters had down brought the fire under control managing to save the fire from spreading throughout the entire block.

Fire safety investigators were now at the property to try and establish how the fire started.

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Everyone inside had escaped safely, she said.

The fire had led to a section of State Highway 74A being closed between Opawa Rd and Ferry Rd.

Motorists were asked to use Ferry Rd and Radley St if they were travelling through the suburb.

Crosson said the fire broke out just after 6.10am with four crews and a tanker needed to tackle the blaze.

The rear unit was engulfed by fire and all efforts were on stopping the blaze from spreading, she said.