Customers and staff at Auckland's Sky City complex were evacuated this afternoon when a fire broke out in a restaurant.

Fire, ambulance and police services were called to the scene at 1.43pm after a fire started in the kitchen of the Jade Dragon restaurant.

Fire service spokesman Jaron Philips said the fire was contained by 1.55pm but the entire main building was evacuated.

The adjoining Grand Hotel and Conference centre was not affected.

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Sky City Entertainment Group spokesperson Scott Campbell said about 200 customers and staff were evacuated from the site, which houses several bars, restaurants and the casino.

He said the emergency showed that practice drills worked, even though they hadn't practised on that scale.

"It works, everyone was out and we had no injuries.....But it's not the sort of thing you want on a Friday.''

The crowd milled around the base of the Sky Tower and lined the entrance to the building for about half an hour. By 2.15pm the sliding doors reopened and police officers directed people inside.

Within five minutes of the doors reopening, a handful of diners returned to Jade Restaurant to ask for a refund for their interrupted meal.

Hoards of people took the escalator back to the casino, and staff went back to work.

Many of the people forced to wait outside for the short time ordered a coffee, said Rebo Pronto barista Sawanya Khuprasertsin.

She said she served close to 40 coffees, and sold even more cold drinks.

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Police temporarily cordoned off Federal St from Victoria St and Wellesley St, Mr Phillips said.

Six fire trucks went to the scene, and an ambulance went as a precaution he said.

The evacuation was a moment of excitement for Nick Van Raalte, who was at a conference in the adjoining building.

"I was on the airbridge and saw there were fire trucks all the way down the road and they had their hoses out. I thought what was going on?

"We were taking guesses whether it was a bomb threat or what was going on.''

- APNZ

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