Hair salon customers had to be evacuated mid-treatment when a fire broke out on the roof of the St Andrews shops at the weekend.
Emergency services were called to the shops, at the corner of Otonga and Old Taupo Rds in Rotorua, at 11am on Saturday. Flames and smoke were seen on the roof of Springfield Liquor and neighbouring Indian Star Express Takeaways, causing the evacuation of all seven shops while a small crowd gathered to watch.
Rotorua Fire Service senior station officer Jim Prescott said two engines attended and quickly extinguished the fire.
However, Otonga Rd was reduced to one lane for at least two hours, as firefighters removed the damaged roof panels to check for fire spots.
"It looks like it started in leaf litter in the guttering of the roof in between the two shops," Mr Prescott said. "It's not known how the ignition source got there."
He said the damage was not too bad, with just a few sheets of roofing iron needing to be replaced.
Aislin Hair Studio owner Joanna Mitchell said she smelled smoke so went outside and saw flames on the roof. "We grabbed computers, hair straighteners, scissors, turned off mains and got everyone out," she said.
That included two customers having their hair done, including one with bleach in her hair that needed to be rinsed off. Neighbours offered their basins but eventually the woman and a hairdresser were allowed back in under the close supervision of a firefighter, Mrs Mitchell said.
She was forced to cancel the rest of the day's appointments. However, other shops, including Springfield Liquor, re-opened later that afternoon.
Springfield Liquor manager Simran Sandhu said a customer had come in and told him there was a fire on the roof. He said the small flames appeared to be near a power pole, which rose up through the roof awnings of the stores.
A Unison worker arrived to inspect the power pole shortly after the fire but Mr Prescott said there was no indication it was connected to the blaze.