A "deliberate act of vandalism" is thought to have started a fire in a Hastings industrial and commercial estate.
The fire between James Rochfort Pl and Kirkwood Rd, off Omahu Rd, burnt a truck, and significantly damaged another trailer and a warehouse at wine bottling and distribution side WineWorks Hawke's Bay and some damage to property of fruit and vegetable growing, harvesting and marketing operation Bostock New Zealand.
It was the first of two big calls for fire services in Hawke's Bay in just over 15 hours for Napier, Hastings and Havelock North firefighters, the second being to the care centre at Summers Havelock North, which had to be evacuated amid a ceiling fire which started in a light fitting early on Saturday afternoon.
Havelock North firefighter Gordon Foster, who on Monday assumes the role of Fire and Emergency New Zealand regional group manager, said about 15 people were evacuated before the fire was extinguished, mainly by the building's sprinkler system.
The call was received at 12.07pm, but crews learnt on the way that the fire was getting into the structure and the alarm was stepped up to include six crews and other support staff from Havelock North, Hastings and Napier.
Firefighters spent more than an hour ensuring the fire had been fully extinguished, including lifting a small portion of roofing, but the centre had fire and water damage.
The Friday fire off Omahu Rd was reported at 9.21pm, and multiple 111 emergency calls were received with flames leaping 10-15m into the air and visible for several kilometres.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand Friday-night Wellington communications centre shift manager Mike Wanoa said an initial response of three appliances was soon increased to eight, with 32 firefighters involved from Hastings and Napier service crews supported by the Havelock North Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Fire in the truck and an equipment workshop was "fully involved" when firefighters arrived, and the blaze was reported under control about half an hour later.
There was extensive damage to the property leased to Wine Works HB, but only minor damage and no impact to any Bostock operational facilities.
Wineworks HB general manager Steve White believes a "deliberate act of vandalism" started the fire, and police reported today inquiries were continuing.
White said that while no stock had been lost and building damage was mainly to a rear wall closest to the Bostock site and WineWorks HB would be "operational again on Monday," he's "extremely disappointed" that a deliberate act by another person put at risk the business and the jobs of 73 people the company employs, and the neighbouring business operations.
He expects the insurance cost to be "quite substantial", but he said it "could have been a lot worse."
Travelling across Hastings from Havelock North, he found firefighters had the fire under control and mainly extinguished, although crews remained at the scene until after midnight.