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Kmart in Invercargill has been evacuated this afternoon amid reports of smoke emerging from vents inside the building.
Firefighting crews from Invercargill and Kingswell attended.
A caller to emergency services shortly before 5pm reported seeing thick white smoke that "smelled weird", a Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokesman said.
Firefighters saw haze near the ceiling and an evacuation was in progress, he said.
Employees working in the building stood on the street as firefighters investigated.
One staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had been told by a colleague there was smoke in the building but did not see or smell anything.
Invercargill station officer Bradley May said Kmart staff noticed a smoke-like substance coming from a vent and ‘‘being cautious’’, alerted emergency services.
It would take a while before firefighters would be able to determine the cause of the smoke.
By about 5.20pm workers were allowed to stand closer to the building but the doors remained closed while firefighters continued to work.
A Fenz spokesperson said this evening that by about 6.15pm the owners had access to the building again.