A construction site, which was a month away from completion, has been gutted by a raging fire in central Auckland tonight.
The fire, which took hold about 9.40pm, saw nine fire appliances and 32 crew members race to the scene next to the West Plaza tower on Fanshawe St.
The plastic wrapping covering the site's scaffolding had all but burned away, leaving that distinctive burnt plastic aroma wafting through central Auckland.
Videos and accounts from eyewitnesses showed the fire was strong for several minutes before fire crews arrived and contained the blaze.
Fire and Emergency NZ Auckland City assistant area commander Barry Fox could confirm the fire had been extinguished at 11pm.
He said crew members were establishing what damage had been sustained and would start investigating the cause, which he could not speculate on.
The site was being managed by Auckland company, Complete Construction.
Company managing director Greg Pritchard said he was at a loss as to what happened.
His staff began work at the site on April 14 with plans to build a media centre attached to the West Plaza building. It was about a month away from completion.
Jared, Daniel and Caitlin were leaving town when they saw the fire which they estimated started between 9.39pm and 9.44pm.
"The plume of smoke was way up there," Jared said.
"You could see the plastic melting on the fire," Caitlin said.
Total Group cleaners Suraj Aryal and Sita Mainali were inside the West Plaza when the fire started.
Mainali, who was cleaning on the 13th floor, heard the fire alarm go off and stopped her mopping before she sped down the stairs.
Aryal was cleaning in the lobby when he both saw and smelt the plastic on the scaffolding burning and rushed outside.
"It was pretty scary," they said.
"I thought the building upstairs was on fire [when I heard the alarm]," Mainali said.