A campervan company boss says rental motorhomes worth millions of dollars have been damaged after a large blaze tore through an Auckland workshop yesterday.
Fire investigators are yet to go inside the ruined building on Richard Pearse Dr near Auckland Airport where 300 rental vehicles belonging to Tourism Holdings were being serviced or waiting for collection.
Small fires continue to flare up from inside the smouldering remains, with fire crews still at the site more than 24 hours after the blaze broke out.
The early morning inferno saw plumes of black smoke billow into the sky, shrouding parts of Mangere Bridge in a thick haze.
Company chief executive Grant Webster today said up to 15 campervans parked inside the massive workshop when fire broke out had been written off.
Scores of other vehicles in the hire fleet in and around the premises had been left damaged by heat or smoke during the blaze but exactly how many were affected was still unknown.
"I would suggest the damage we're facing from the fire is in the millions," said Webster.
"We'll be going through all the vehicles on the site."
He said although it owned the fleet, Tourism Holdings leased the building.
At the height of the fire, some 70 firefighters and 14 fire trucks battled the large blaze which broke out in the rear of the building.
Firefighters had to rip open a hole in the wire perimeter security fence to reach the burning building, winching and driving vehicles parked at the front of the burning business.
Traffic was brought to a standstill near the Kirkbride Dr offramp along the airport highway during rush hour yesterday morning. Smoke poured from the building for hours as firefighters battled the fierce blaze, that started around 5.30am.
No one was in the building at the time, with flames setting off a fire alarm.
In the meantime the tourism company that owns Maui, Britz and Mighty motorhomes and campervans was aiming to resume business at its nearby airport vehicle storage site in Puhinui Rd as quickly as possible.
"We're on track to be open at midday," said Webster.
Portacoms had been shifted on to the yard but there were still aspects of the hire operation such as road user printing machines that needed to be sourced ahead of business recommencing.
Yesterday Webster said the destruction of the workshop had taken an emotional toll on employees who considered the workplace their "home away from home".
A fire spokesman said investigators started interviews yesterday afternoon but it was unclear if they would be able to enter the building for a closer inspection today to determine the cause of the blaze.
There were a number of hot spots that continued to erupt and given the extent of the damage to the structure it was uncertain whether it was safe to go inside yet, he said.