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A Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) spokesman said it appeared the fire started in a wall behind the kitchen stoves at Carey's Bay Hotel, near Port Chalmers.
Fire appliances from Port Chalmers and Dunedin were called to the event about 3pm.
"It was enough that they had to use breathing apparatus. The kitchen was smoke-logged,'' the Fenz spokesman said.
The fire was not suspicious and caused only minor damage, he said.
Manager Jo Kidston said the hotel would be closed for the rest of the day so staff can clean up the mess, but she expected it to reopen tomorrow.