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Staff are 'devastated' after fire gutted the premises of printing business Colortronics in central Dunedin yesterday, destroying recently-installed new machinery.
East Otago area manager Laurence Voight said appliances from Willowbank, St Kilda, Roslyn and Dunedin attended the fire at digital print and document centre Colortronics at 6.30am.
When firefighters entered the Filleul St building, flames were breaking through the roof and gaining momentum, he said.
Firefighters took about 30 minutes to bring the fire under control.
Colortronics owner Thomas Garforth said he was on his way to work when a fire engine passed him.
New printing hardware was destroyed in the blaze, including a Fuji digital press he had bought only three weeks ago, he said.
Colortronics graphic designer Andy Frampton said the four staff were on their way to work as the premises were burning.
"It's pretty devastating."
The print shop had been in the building for about 12 months, after shifting from larger premises in Moray Pl, he said.
He hoped the computer hard drives were salvageable.
"The main area of concern is our files. The back-up of our back-up was in there."
Building owner Evan Hopkins said he had owned the building for 15 years and it was insured.
He also owned an adjoining building which his son used for storage. The contents were not damaged.
Configure Express Dunedin sales consultant Teri Higgins (27) said she was in the gym's reception area when a man ran into the women-only gym and yelled for everyone to get out.
Reflected in the windows of a nearby building, she could see 6m-high "bright orange flames" coming from the roof of the print store, Miss Higgins said.
She directed the 30 members in the gym to the exit.
Although the gym shared a wall with the print shop, nobody had smelt smoke.
But when they went outside, they could hear windows breaking and smell smoke, which was billowing from the adjoining building.
The experience had been frightening, she said.
"I don't think I've seen heart rates get that high in the gym before."
Fire risk management officer Barry Gibson, of Dunedin, said the fire, which started in the centre of the building, had gutted the premises.
Investigations into the cause of the fire would continue today, he said.