Firefighters battling a huge blaze at a Queenstown building appear to have brought it under control.
Crews were called to The World Bar and Fat Badgers Pizza restaurant on Shotover Street shortly after 3.30pm today (Friday).
A fire – believed to have originated in the one of the building’s kitchens – had taken hold and spread through the entire structure.
While the main fire now appears to have been extinguished, crews have hoses running into the air-conditioning ducts and a ladder appliance is on its way from Invercargill.
A crowd of hundreds gathered on the street outside as flames shot from the building and plumes of smoke billowed into the sky.
The building and nearby businesses, including the Station Building, were evacuated as fire crews from Queenstown, Frankton and Arrowtown tackled the blaze.
At least 35 firefighters and four fire appliances were called in as the fire threatened to spread to other buildings.
Queenstown senior sergeant John Fookes says it is understood everyone was safely evacuated. “We don’t think anyone has been hurt, as far as we know,” Fookes says.
Queenstowner Dave Boyd, who has owned The World Bar building for three years, says: “I’m gutted.
“We don’t know [what caused it]. It’s too soon to say. There’s not sprinklers in the building, no.
“The fire brigade are doing a brilliant job. My heart sank [when I saw it].”
The World Bar is one of the most popular bars among backpackers and locals hosting big name music acts.
Eye-witness Simon Lynn, at about 4.15pm this afternoon, says: “It looks like they’re fighting a losing battle.
“They seem to have had it under control a few times only for it to go again.
“When it started we saw one of the cooks outside. He was in chef whites and outside looking really stressed, saying ‘oh my God’. Then the fire crews arrived.”
World Bar marketing manager Chris Barnhart says: “Everyone is out.
“Everyone is safe. It looks like a total write-off though I’m no fire expert.”
When asked whether the fire started in Fat Badgers, Barnhart says: “I’ll go ahead and confirm that.”
Fat Badgers Pizza co-owner Anthony Waldock says: “Everybody’s safe and sound and that’s the main thing.
“We’re up in Auckland so only getting reports of what’s happened through oursleves. I’m too busy to comment further but we’re just very glad everyone’s safe.”