A spectacular blaze in a Birch Avenue panelbeaters brought the industrial area to a stand-still this afternoon.
The fire broke out at Colin Davis Panelbeaters in Birch Avenue in Judea shortly after 2pm.
Fire fighters battle the blaze at panel beater shop in Birch Avenue.
Firefighters from Tauranga and Greerton were called to the scene and cordons were put in place from Koromiko Street to Waihi Road while people were evacuated.
All 11 people working in the panelbeaters were uninjured in the blaze, which is has now been contained.
Tauranga Senior Station Officer Mark Keller says the blaze started in the spray booth at the back of the panelbeaters.
“A spray painter was working in the spray booth and while he was spray painting a door he was notified by a business across the way that smoke was coming out of the flume.
“The young guy came out and went back in with a bucket of water and a hose and tried to put the fire out.”
“The fire started under his feet, he is using highly volatile solvent so the solvent is part of the spray, the solvent’s carry the paint and those get carried away through the floor and up through the vent.”
Black clouds of smoke were seen emanating from the industrial region as the neighbouring Filthy Few headquarters’ members scrambled to push their bikes to safety.
A Filthy Few member says there was no explosion to alert them, “just a lot of screaming and yelling, that was it.”
Fire threatened the Filthy Few Headquarters next door.
Zach Rayner, who lives on Clarke Street near Tauranga Hospital, says he looked out the window to see large clouds of smoke and flames.
“There was a whole lot of flames and really black smoke coming from the building. There was also water that looked like it was being sprayed over top.”
Senior Station Officer Mark Keller says by the time firefighters arrived on scene fire had intensified and was burning on two levels at the back of the building.
“We had been called as soon as the smoke was seen.
“No one was hurt trying to put the fire out or when it ignited. There was no flash, it started under the floor, so it was not one that endangered the spray painter, it would have been if he had gone back in for any length of time.”
Mark says the dark black smoke is caused by the toxicity of the paint used by spray painters, which is particularly dangerous.
“They use isocyanine paint. All my crews are not allowed anywhere near the smoke because of the toxicity of the paint.”
Firefighters used two high pressure deliveries to extinguish the fire and then scouted the area for any exposure fires in the surrounding areas.
A total of 10 firefighters worked to control the blaze until about 3.30pm.
“It had the potential to spread.”