A fire at a Hokitika high school has caused the collapse of the hall roof and destroyed the staff room, an eyewitness says.
The large blaze started in Westland High School's administration building and spread to the school hall.
Sixty firefighters are still working on the blaze.
West Coast principal rural fire officer, Mark Boere said the fire was contained. He said the fire had spread along wall cavities, which had made it difficult to put out.
They are talking to tradesmen who were working at the school to establish how the fire started, he said.
Nearby resident Rebekah Fraser said the high school was the only one in Hokitika.
Mrs Fraser said the fire had spread quite drastically and the smoke was covering a lot of the town.
"So from the school all the way up to the airport is pretty much blanketed in smoke." She said most of Hokitika was there watching it unfold.
"There's cars everywhere there's a lot of people have come out, it's very, very noticeable. We obviously heard the sirens and looked out the window and saw a lot of smoke, we just live a block away and came down, so yeah it's a big event for Hokitika."
Mrs Fraser said that people had been gathering on the school field but had been cleared by police because a helicopter was planning on landing but the smoke had gone across the field.
She said the weather was a lot hotter than normal.
The school will not open tomorrow, and will stay closed until further notice.
Fire crews from the West Coast town were called out just before 1pm after a fire in the administration block of Westland High School on Hampden Street.
The fire spread through to the second floor of the administration block and into the roof of the school's hall.
St John said one person had been taken to Greymouth Hospital.
Fire Service said a firefighter who was feeling unwell was taken to hospital as a precaution.