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Panic broke out among students at the University of Auckland's Epsom campus this morning as a ferocious fire broke out in the cafeteria.
The building filled with black smoke as students lined up for their morning tea about 10.20am.
Bachelor of Education student Waratah Taogaga was making her way to the cafeteria when she heard the fire alarm going off.
"Everyone just started running out. There was heaps of black smoke - students were surrounded by it. People were freaking out and didn't know what to do, didn't know if class was still on. People have got assessments and big tests today. It fully disturbed the whole day.
"My friend that was in there said while he was waiting for his sushi the oil in the deep fryer caught fire and exploded. They poured water on it and that's what caused all the smoke."
Incident controller Dave Woon said it was fortunate no one was injured given the number of people who were on campus at the time.
"There's a lot of people on this campus and the outcome has been pretty good. It's been efficient and the fire was out in a short space of time."
The incident went to a fourth alarm - the most serious category of fire - and 16 fire appliances attended from surrounding stations.
"We think it's started in the cafeteria, it's gone through a couple of levels so we're unsure how that has happened," Mr Woon said.
It was possible the fire had started in one of the deep fryers, which would be examined by a fire safety officer.
Students were still unable to go to their classes by midday and were unsure when they'd be allowed back in.