A fire at a clothing store in Rotorua led to a neighbouring coffee shop and apartments being evacuated this morning.
Fire crews were called to the fire at Lala Mandala in Hinemoa St just before 11am.
A Fire and Emergency NZ spokeswoman said two appliances were called to the scene and a bystander said he had seen smoke and flames at the store.
A firefighter was seen removing a burnt object from the shop.
The fire was primarily at the center front of the store next to a manikin and wooden ladder.
Starbucks employees were the first to hear the fire alarm and the manager called the fire brigade immediately.
The smoke came through the coffee shop's airconditioning and customers and staff were told to evacuate until it had cleared out.
The apartments above the stores had also been evacuated as a precaution.
Lala Mandala staff member Jeff Barnett said if the fire burned for "another five minutes - gone".
Barnett was arriving to open the store when someone told him there was a fire.
He could see the umbrella at the front of the store in flames, "I wanted to grab the umbrella and throw it out."
He was thankful to the Starbucks manager who worked quickly to get the emergency services there, the store would have been "burned to the ground" if not for the fast fire brigade and police, Barnett said.
The fire brigade was "on point", arriving at the scene within five minutes, said Barnett.
"If there was more stuff in that corner it could have been something else."
After smoke was extracted and fans were put on, the store opened at 12:45pm for business, less than two hours after the fire began.
Neighbouring store Q Records and Collectables owner Quentin Mcintosh said Lala Mandala had opened not long ago so it was "a real shame".
Mcintosh had customers leaving his store when one of them said "there's something on fire".
"Praise to the fire services ... looks like they got it under control quite quickly," Mcintosh said.
"If it was my place I'd cry."
Rotorua councillor Raj Kumar was on his way to a meeting when he saw the fire brigade pass him and stop near Te Manawa.
Kumar said he saw an object from the store on fire.