Large fire engulfs multiple properties in Auckland's Māngere Bridge

Residents of multiple properties in south Auckland were lucky to escape uninjured from a massive blaze overnight. 

Emergency services raced to Coronation Rd, Māngere Bridge just before 3am where a block of homes was well-involved in flames. 

On arrival, fire crews were faced with a massive inferno which had taken hold across multiple structures behind a church. 

Police said officers set up a cordon and evacuated nearby houses on Mountain Rd and Koru St as a precaution.

Up to three appliances were expected to stay on the scene for the rest of Thursday fire investigators looks into the cause. 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand assistant commander Chris Delfos told AM the unique location of the blaze proved a challenge. 

Māngere Bridge's Mountain View School has been forced to close due to the fire and asbestos risk. 

"There may be asbestos in the burned buildings so we have been advised by the public health officer to close until further notice," a note on the school's website said. 

Other nearby schools were asked to keep their children inside, health officials said.

In a statement, Te Whatu Ora said it was possible asbestos had been released into the air - given the age of the buildings.

"Public health staff will be working with Auckland Council on a comprehensive assessment of the asbestos risk today and will advise whether any action need to be taken. This will require sampling sites close to the fire and testing this."

Northern region medical officer of health Denise Barnfather said the risk was low for most Māngere Bridge residents.

"Apart from the schools and ELS (early learning services) close by, those at other schools or residents in Māngere Bridge do not need to stay inside," Dr Barnfather said.  "We will be providing more information after the risk assessment has been complete."

The fire was earlier escalated to a third alarm level - with dozens of firefighters working to bring it under control. 

Fourteen appliances including ladder trucks and specialist appliances responded.

Speaking to AM from the scene, reporter Emma Olsen said the fire had caused "absolute destruction".

"Just five hours ago, there were five separate structures here - five separate homes where families lived. However, now they've all been destroyed.

"All of these houses were owned by the church community - the church backs just on to these houses.

"The smell of smoke is very prominent in the area... there are scorched trees, there are melted bikes."

Police said officers earlier closed Coronation Rd, between Walmsley Rd and the off-ramp to the Southwestern Motorway, but this had since reopened.