8 Feb 2017

Explosions during Canterbury honey company fire

12:35 pm on 8 February 2017

Empty drums exploded during a blaze at a Leeston honey company but the rest of the factory is unaffected, its owner says.

The fire brigade was called to Airborne Honey in Leeston, south of Christchurch, about 10pm yesterday after nearby residents heard explosions.

Airborne Honey, Leeston.

Airborne Honey in Leeston, south of Christchurch Photo: Google Street View

The building at the Pennington Street company was ablaze when they arrived. It took 35 firefighters, using four engines and two tankers, about three hours to put out the fire.

Airborne Honey owner Peter Bray said the fire broke out in a workshop, at the back of the plant, where equipment for the factory is made.

There were explosions in drums used to transport honey, but they were empty. No honey was destroyed.

"It's business as usual. We're very very lucky, and it won't disrupt us much at all ... the rest of the plant's fine.

"But personally for me it's a bit disappointing, because building things and making things is a big part of my enjoyment for business. So it's personally upsetting."

Police said the fire was not suspicious.

Mr Bray said the workshop had many flammable materials and possible sources of ignition.

It also contained a large number of tools collected over 20 or 30 years, he said.

Leeston's chief volunteer fire officer, Lloyd Clausen, said explosions in the 44 gallon drums were loud enought to wake some locals.

The fire was large, in a building about 30m by 30m, but was was fairly localised to the workshop and storage area, he said.

Rotorua fire damages restaurant

In Rotorua, a restaurant was been badly damaged by fire overnight.

The restaurant in Eruera Street was empty when the fire broke out in the rear of the building at about 10.30pm.

Three crews battled the blaze. A fire investigator is looking into the cause.