The Sutton Tools factory on Dale St in Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch, was ravaged by fire.
Emergency services were called to the fire shortly after 12:30 a.m. No one was injured, police said in a statement.
“As a precaution, the police helped evacuate some nearby residential streets, with residents of around 30 to 40 houses being taken to the school in North Kaiapoi.”
Firefighters were expected at the scene today.
Sutton Tools was the only manufacturer of drill bits in New Zealand. It employed several generations of local families and many employees had been there for decades, a worker said The New Zealand Herald.
She said she was “in shock” and the fire would rock the Kaiapoi community.
The fire is believed to have started just after the night shift, she said. The banging noises that were heard during the fire were oil drums exploding.
The rods that had just arrived after being ordered for months due to supply chain issues had melted like candles.
“The business has employed generations of locals, most of whom have worked here for over 30 years,” she said.
“Most people who start there, get married there, have kids there, and their kids work there. It’s a family, not just a business.”
Firefighters at the scene told him it was one of the worst fires they had seen, with flames reaching 20 meters in the air.
At 4 a.m., 14 fire engines were on the scene. Residents were warned to stay away as the fire was still burning.
Jill Higgison, Southern Fire and Emergency Shift Manager, said as of 6:30 a.m., five fire crews were still present.
Fire causes toxic oil slick
Environment Canterbury staff are at the River Cam/Ruataniwha in Kaiapoi, after a factory fire sent toxic oil into the water.
The fire that destroyed the Sutton Tools manufacturing plant early this morning caused quenching liquid, used to quickly cool steel, to spill into the storm water system.
This resulted in an oil slick running from the Walker Street Bridge to another tributary and eventually to the mouth of the Waimakariri River.
Dams were placed in the river to remove some of the product but a quantity escaped with the receding tide.
People are warned to stay away from the river.
– Additional RNZ reports