Two Whanganui firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus and wearing full protective gear braved a burning building on Monday afternoon after reports people could still be inside.

Far from being a straight forward shed fire the incident in Manuka Street came with the fear that squatters might be trapped inside.

Manuka Street, Whanganui, scene of a farm shed fire on Monday.
Manuka Street, Whanganui, scene of a farm shed fire on Monday.

Wthin half an hour of the first fire applicances arriving two firefighters emerged from the building, visibly exhausted from their efforts.

As they dumped their heavy equipment and fell to the grass verge for rest, came the news uppermost in everybody's mind - the building was clear.

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"There's a fair bit of damage, but no signs of people," acting fire service area manager Gary Ward told the Chronicle.

"We are still dampening it down and will be on site for a while longer, but we are as satisfied as we can be at this stage."

Two applicances responded to the late afternoon call and were quickly joined by two further applicances, including a tanker.

Manuka Street, Whanganui, scene of a farm shed fire on Monday.
Manuka Street, Whanganui, scene of a farm shed fire on Monday.

Police closed the affected area of Manuka Street while a power worker checked for electrical connections - there were none.

The large shed measured about 30m by 10m and sat to the rear of the semi-rural property. It was "well involved" when fire applicances arrived.

The property's owner said there had been squatters staying in the shed and while he did not think they were still there he told firefighters that he could not be certain.

Mr Ward said it was too early to say how the fire started.