The director of a Waipukurau business which erupted into flames has praised firefighters for containing what could have been a far bigger blaze.

More than 30 firefighters were called to Stevenson and Taylor on Takapau Rd this morning after they received reports that a commercial building was on fire about 10am.

Stevenson and Taylor director Bill Donnithorne said a small motor shop and plasma-cutting room, with a new machine worth $70,000, was completely gutted.

"We're lucky. The fire brigade did a magnificent job and stopped it spreading to other workshops. It's disappointing but I'm just thankful we haven't had any more damage.

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"The whole place could have gone up which could have cost millions of dollars."

The small motor repairs workshop was gutted, along with a plasma-cutting room.
The small motor repairs workshop was gutted, along with a plasma-cutting room.

Waipukurau volunteer fire deputy chief Glen Miller said the call-out went to a second alarm, with crews from Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Hastings attending, with a crew from Takapau on standby.

With 10 appliances at the scene, it took 35 firefighters 15 minutes to contain the blaze.

"It was a really good save," the incident controller said.

An area of the workshop around 16m by 12m had been damaged but given the size of the industrial building, and the "large hazards" it contained, he said it could have been a lot worse.

The fire was not considered suspicious.

Fire communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said the cause of the fire was being investigated by a specialist fire and emergency fire investigator.

He said crews remained at the scene until nearly 2pm to dampen the scene down.

A police spokesperson said they were called to the scene at 10.10am and diverted traffic at Racecourse Rd and Hatuma Rd.

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Rebecca Ward was at the Old School BBQ and Smokehouse just 20m from the building when she heard a loud bang.

"We were just serving morning tea to the blokes and all of the sudden it went hiss and then boom with flames everywhere. It was almost like it was pressure, something with intense pressure, which exploded and burst into flames."

Ward said she couldn't see flames at first but when she moved out on to the road she could see the internal building was "engulfed in flames".

Stevenson and Taylor employees and members of the public can only watch as flames engulf the building.
Stevenson and Taylor employees and members of the public can only watch as flames engulf the building.

The Central Hawke's Bay business, which has been running for more than 60 years, would continue business as usual once a temporary workshop was set up in a storage shed, Donnithorne said.

"The staff have been marvellous. No one was hurt and the health and safety procedures all worked perfectly. The fire brigade have been excellent. Really, it could have been 100 per cent worse."

He said it was the first fire the business has had in more than 10 years; the last being 11 years ago at a workshop on Russell St near New World in Waipukurau.