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A massive factory fire was extinguished in the Auckland suburb of Ellerslie tonight, leaving one firefighter in hospital suffering from heat exhaustion.

The fire was noticed shortly before 6.30pm in a building used for boat manufacturing, with burning asbestos and fibreglass making it hazardous.

More than 50 firefighters battled the blaze, but the 50m by 20m building was left partially collapsed and severely damaged by the time the flames were doused.

A northern fire communications spokesman said units were standing down before nightfall, but some fire fighters and investigators would remain on the scene overnight to dampen down hot spots and assess how it may have started.

The fire was "well under control" before 9pm and there were no reports of anyone having been injured, although a fireman was later taken to hospital with symptoms of heat exhaustion.

He was being checked over and was likely to be released tonight.

Auckland residents as far away as Whangaparaoa on the North Shore could reportedly see smoke billowing into the air at the height of the blaze.

The fire caused some disruption as the southern motorway was temporarily closed at the Penrose off-ramp to give emergency services quick, unobstructed access.

The Department of Labour is also investigating.

- NZPA