A massive shed fire on the outskirts of Kerikeri is now under control but firefighters are expected to be at the scene dampening down well into Saturday evening.
The blaze, on Kapiro Rd, off State Highway 10 north of Kerikeri, destroyed a large steel building originally built as a packing shed.
An adjoining building, which appeared to be a dwelling or offices, was also razed.
A thick column of black smoke could be seen as far away as Kerikeri Domain, where a few thousand people had gathered for the annual half marathon prizegiving and a skateboarding contest.
The alarm was raised about 12.40pm with firefighters responding from Kerikeri, Ōkaihau and the recently established Bay of Islands Airport Rescue Fire.
The firefighters had to wear breathing apparatus to fight flames which at their peak were leaping up to 10m in the air.
At one point the fire was so intense firefighters had to retreat.
It is not thought anyone was injured but that could not be immediately confirmed.
Another house on the same property was saved.
The blaze is believed to be the biggest fought by the Kerikeri Fire Brigade this year and the biggest commercial building fire in many years.
A lack of reticulated water was a problem with fire trucks having to shuttle water from a hydrant about 1km east on Kapiro Rd. A bulk water tanker was also called in.
Another challenge for the firefighters was the presence of large gas cylinders, some containing highly flammable acetylene, used for welding. They had to be cooled with jets of water to reduce the risk of an explosion.
The fire was under control by 2pm.
By then the shed had started to collapse and the other building was burnt almost to the ground.
Fire safety officers will begin an investigation once the fire is fully extinguished.
Police also attended. Kapiro Rd was not closed during the blaze but there were delays as fire trucks came and went.
The Kerikeri-based Rapid Relief Team, made up of Brethren Church volunteers, assisted with traffic control and providing drinking water for exhausted firefighters.
An alternative event to the Kerikeri Street Party, held every year after the half marathon but cancelled this year due to uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic, is being held this evening at nearby Kainui Rd Vineyard. However, the wind is blowing smoke from the fire in the opposite direction, away from the vineyard.