SkyCity Fire: Little change in fire overnight, 12 million litres of water used

Publish Date
Tuesday, 22 October 2019, 3:25PM

For the latest on the developing situation at SKYCITY, visit nzherald.co.nz

Key Points:

  • The fire atop the SkyCity Convention Centre continues to rage for a second day
  • Severe gales and rain are forecast for later today
  • Ground-based firefighters using high-powered hoses to try to quell flames
  • 12 million litres of water has been used to fight the blaze so far
  • Expect traffic chaos: Several inner-city roads are closed - people are asked to stay out of the city if they can
  • TVNZ has been forced to evacuate its building and the Breakfast show is broadcasting from a temporary makeshift studio.

The massive SkyCity inferno continues to burn out of control this morning - despite firefighters using 12 million litres of water fighting the blaze.

Strengthening winds are adding to firefighters' woes by fanning the flames.

Auckland traffic is at a standstill with several roads closed - and many workplaces have told staff to work from home today. Civil Defence has warned people to avoid the inner-city.

Massive flames and black smoke continue to pour from the $700m under-construction convention centre with with more than 80 ground-based firefighters using high-powered hoses to try to quell flames.

Fire and Emergency Auckland Regional Manager Ron Devlin said the SkyCity fire was one of the "largest and most difficult structure fires in recent times".

"It is a complex fire. In the roof, involving bitumen, straw and plywood, is compact, and so we are having real difficulty getting into it."

"The roof is not safe to go onto, and the floors below are quite a distance below, so actually fighting and putting out the roof fire is very difficult.

"The plan was to cool and protect the area from surrounding parts of the building, but let the roof itself burn.

Firefighters face a battle on another front this morning, with a severe weather warning forecast for Auckland - including heavy showers, thunder, hail and gales gusting 100km/h set to strike.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Fire and Emergency New Zealand told the Herald there had been little change overnight.

There are unconfirmed reports that sprinklers in the $700 million building, which is still under construction, had not yet been installed.

Downtown Auckland is filled with billowing black smoke - which police warn could be toxic.

 

Drivers in and around Auckland are being told to stay away from parts of downtown Auckland or expect massive delays after the fire at the $700 million SkyCity Convention Centre closed off roads.

Parts of the city are already being cordoned off by authorities as fire crews continue to work at a large blaze that broke out at the building on Hobson St.

A big section of Hobson St has been shut down, as well as Wellesley St - between Hobson and Nelson streets) and Nelson St - between Victoria and Wellesley streets.

Photo / Max Middleton

 

The NZ Transport Agency is warning motorists to stay away.

"Avoid this area or expect delays and diversions,'' the NZTA said.

"Victoria St is also being closed, between Hobson St and Nelson St. Expect delays and diversions for bus services using any of these routes currently''.

Construction worker Sandeep Patel said he was inside the building that is now on fire and had been evacuated.

"We have no idea what is going on, all of a sudden we were told to get out."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is reporting what he can see live on his official Twitter page.

"Fire is really building. People can be seen on the roof,'' he wrote.