A truck laden with newspapers ignited in a dramatic fire in Canterbury early this morning.

A Fire Service spokesman said emergency services were called to the blaze on State Highway 7 near Hanmer Spring about 1.30am.

The truck, which was carrying newspapers to Nelson, was burning fiercely when firefighters arrived.

"Initial reports were of a tyre on fire but when we arrived the whole truck was involved," the spokesman said.

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"That kept us bus for a wee while because there were a whole lot of papers inside ... It was quite a mess."

It was not clear how the fire started, or which publication it was.

The truck driver was not injured.