Venues

Firefighters bring NZICC fire under control, as possible source of blaze found

Firefighters have contained fires at New Zealand’s SkyCity Convention Centre, after the centre erupted in flames last week.

The latest fire to reportedly flair up after beginning last week was on Monday, when a major blaze saw parts of Auckland’s CBD shutdown, New Zealand’s media reported.

The firefighter presence at SkyCity Convention Centre has been scaled back and two trucks remain at the scene, Fire and Emergency New Zealand region manager Ron Devlin told Stuff in a statement. This comes after a blaze erupted on the roof of the site, which workers said was started by an unattended blow torch.

Hundreds of people were evacuated, including the 400 workers who were on site.

Significant damage to the roof of the building continues to hamper efforts by emergency services personnel accessing the heart of the fire.

Although the investigation into the cause is reportedly still ongoing, including mapping affected areas, sources including an electrician working below the blaze as it erupted said it was caused by a worker who accidentally left a blowtorch unattended.

A “well-placed source” told the NZ Herald a teenager, who was reportedly working for a sub-contractor, was called for a “smoko break” and only remembered when he was away from the roof that he may have forgotten to turn off the gas blowtorch being used to help install a waterproof membrane.

The source told the Herald the teenager was returning to the roof to check the blowtorch, but by then the fire had started.

“The poor guy is in tatters … he’s completely shattered.”

Authorities continue to refuse to be drawn on what sparked the blaze.

“Representatives from 10 different organisations including police, insurers and other government agencies have been conducting a cooperative investigation,” Devlin said.

The builder of the under-construction convention centre, Fletcher Construction, reportedly provided help to emergency services, including large cranes.

Ross Taylor, CEO of Fletcher Construction parent-company Fletcher Building, extended his gratitude to the Fire and Emergency teams for their bravery and long hours battling the fire and ensuring the safety of the people of Auckland.

Taylor said the process to move the SkyCity Convention Centre project forward is likely to take “a number of months” to complete.

“As we do this, our people and subcontractors will remain our number one priority. As you can imagine, our team of people at NZICC have been through a lot over the last two days and have responded and performed brilliantly,” Taylor said.

“Through this we are ensuring they have the appropriate support services around them while we work on our plans to get back onto the site and reboot the project as quickly as possible.

“We are all devastated to see the project we have worked so hard on impacted this way and while our timeline will change, our resolve will not – and together with SkyCity we remain committed to delivering a world-class convention centre for Auckland and New Zealand,” he said.

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