The Urenui Fire Chief says people may have been injured if a tornado that struck the North Taranaki town in the early hours of this morning had hit during the day.
A petrol station in a Taranaki town was damaged by what is believed to have been a tornado that hit the town of Urenui at about 1am.
Stephen Luxton said his volunteer brigade arrived to find trees strewn everywhere and the local service station badly damaged.
"And the garage veranda was totally wrecked,half of it was on the ground and half of it was sitting on the roof of the garage and because it was fiberlight roof it had just smashed it to bits."
Mr Luxton said a neighbouring business had its roller door blown in.
Motel owner Kerri Hulbert lives across the road from the petrol station and told Morning Report a loud bang woke her.
"I just heard a loud noise at twenty to one this morning, and woke up and thought what was that? I looked out the window and the canopy in front of the garage had been ripped up and half of it was on their roof," she said.
"It was scary, especially in the middle of the night, all the animals scarpered!"
She said the petrol station would not open today, such was the extent of the damage.
MetService severe weather forecaster Erick Brenstrum said the damage may have been caused by a small tornado or straight line wind gusts related to thunderstorms.