One of Auckland's most prestigious private schools is closing its doors for the day due to concerns around smoke wafting from a huge fire at a metals company.

Students and staff were instructed to head home from King's College around midday today, as dozens of firefighters continued to battle an out-of-control fire in the area.

A 12m-high pile of 1600 tonnes of scrap metal, including old cars part, roofing and tyres, is burning at Sims Pacific Metals, 263 James Fletcher Drive, in Favona.

The blaze had the potential to burn for another 24 hours, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

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"We are making progress, but it is slow, arduous work and something we unfortunately can't speed through," Fire and Emergency New Zealand area commander Geoff Purcell said.

He said James Fletcher Drive would remain closed until at least midday tomorrow, when the situation would be reviewed.

Thick grey and white smoke is spewing from the fire and this morning at least 25 people were waiting outside the Kaka St cordon, unable to get to work. Some people had given up and left.

A large fire at a scrap metal dealer is sending smoke across Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
A large fire at a scrap metal dealer is sending smoke across Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The school's day students were being directed to Day Houses until they were able to be picked up or leave by train. Their parents were being contacted individually.

Boarders were being shuffled back to their boarding houses. Where appropriate they would be relocated to a modern building in the school, said a statement on the school's website.

The statement said there was no immediate cause for alarm and said the move was to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

James Fletcher Drive is closed between Savill Drive and Kaka St.
James Fletcher Drive is closed between Savill Drive and Kaka St.

"The college has spoken to the Fire Department who are focusing their efforts on controlling and putting out the fire," it read.

Road closures were in place around the school and were being managed by police and Auckland transport.

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The statement said it was expected the school would be open tomorrow and classes would resume as normal.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand area commander Geoff Purcell said the "deep-seated" fire could burn all day.

"It's a huge fire and there's a lot of really thick, black smoke coming from it.

"We are doing everything we can to get this fire under control, and our crews are working extremely hard.

Assistant area commander Auckland City Barry Fox said the fire was covering an area 100m by 70m, and 12m high in some places.

"Before the cars were shredded they were drained of fuels and oils, but there are still some minor explosions going off, in tanks, bits and pieces within scrap heap."

The fire was reported at 1.56am.

As yet the cause of the fire was unknown.

If people had health concerns they could call Healthline on 0800 611 116.