Darrell Coad was preparing a car to be painted when he heard a noise. The automotive refinisher looked up and saw flames.
Coad tried to fight the fire with an extinguisher, but it was “just out of control”, so he started moving cars out of the central Christchurch workshop. He was unable to move two of the vehicles, which burned.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman Riwai Grace said the blaze was well involved when crews arrived at the St Asaph St building, which is a workshop for Nigel Thompson Motor Company, about 11.40am on Wednesday.
The fire emitted a thick cloud of black smoke before it was extinguished.
Four fire fighters in breathing apparatus and using “several hose reels” fought the blaze.
The fire covered about 250 square metres of a single-storey property, he said.
Coad, who was in the building when the fire started, suffered a burn to his hand trying to extinguish the blaze.
“I was just at the front of a car, masking up a car, and I heard a bit of a noise and looked up and saw some flames.”
Coad said the fire started near an electrical board, but he was not certain of the cause of the blaze.
At 1.25pm, Grace said the fire was out.
Fire investigators would determine the cause of the blaze.
A police spokeswoman said cordons were put up on St Asaph St between Phillips St and Nursery Rd. The Christchurch City Council helped traffic control units.
The cordons had since been removed and the road reopened.
Nigel Thompson Motor Company has been contacted for comment.