SkyCity Convention Centre fire: Inferno rages, roof fears, TVNZ evacuated, Aucklanders advised to avoid central city

Publish Date
Wednesday, 23 October 2019, 8:00AM

KEY POINTS

* The SkyCity fire continues to burn this morning - with severe gales and rain forecast
Roads in the CBD are closed, buses have been diverted - some workers are staying home
A Civil Defence public health alert has been issued for people living and working in the CBD
* One person was injured and at least one firefighter has been hospitalised - believed to have been a medical event
* A worker's blowtorch is believed to have ignited the fire about 1.15pm on Tuesday
Watch: From the sky - footage of the giant fire

A massive SkyCity inferno continues to rage this morning, with ground-based firefighters using high-powered hoses to try to quell flames.

The neighbouring TVNZ building is being evacuated amid fears the fire may spread, and the Breakfast show is broadcasting live from the street outside. Auckland Council's head office in Albert St is being assessed for smoke damage and health and safety for staff and could also be closed.

The fire - ignited by a worker's blowtorch on the roof of the seven-storey building about 1.15pm yesterday - shows little sign of abating this morning. Flames and thick smoke continue to pour from the building.

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"It's now got to the point where the regional commander has told me that they've abandoned the roof, they think that the roof might collapse so what they might try to do is stop the fire reaching below level five," Mayor Phil Goff told RNZ last night.

More than 80 firefighters are at the scene, with fire engines lined up Nelson St, as Auckland commuters face a morning of chaos and confusion. Many central city roads are closed, bus services are disrupted - and some businesses are urging workers to stay away today.

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.


Photo / NZH

Meanwhile, Auckland commuters are already caught up in a long, slow crawl to work this morning, with central city roads closed as firefighters battle the SkyCity inferno.

Much of Nelson St is closed - creating havoc for traffic entering the city from the busy northwestern motorway. Traffic maps show dozens of pinchpoints around the city at 8am.

More than 20 fire engines were lined up along Nelson St with ground-based firefighters using high-powered hoses to try to quell flames.

Auckland Transport warned commuters to expect major delays in the central city.

Spokesman Mark Hannan said the immediate roads around SkyCity - including Hobson, Victoria, Nelson and Wellesley Sts - would remain closed until at least mid-morning.

"It will be a slow journey in [on Wednesday]. If you can avoid coming into the city, do."

People who could work from home or from a non-central location this morning, or start work later in the day, were recommended to do so.

Meanwhile, Auckland Emergency Management acting director Sarah Sinclair advised commuters to take extra care, be patient and stay out of smoke plumes.

"There will be ongoing disruption [Wednesday] morning, while roads remain closed and public transport is diverted.

"We urge people to use their common sense and not put themselves in harm's way by standing in smoke plumes or downwind of smoke."

Disruption to City bus services

NX2 to city

Buses will use Port motorway off-ramp, left Wellesley Street, left Mayoral Drive, left Wakefield Street, left Symonds Street, left Wellesley Street, with buses ending their trip on Wellesley Street near AUT (7089).

22A, 22N, 22R, 221X, 223X, 24B, 24R, 24W, 243X, and 248X to city

Wellesley Street as normal then left Mayoral Drive via Cook Street, right Nelson Street, left Wellesley Street, then as normal.

82, 802, 923, and 924 to city

Fanshawe Street as normal via Sturdee Street, via Customs Street, right Queen Street, left Wakefield Street then as normal.

75 to city

Wellesley Street as normal, left Mayoral Drive, via Cook Street, right Nelson Street, left Wellesley Street, then as normal.

18, 151X, 171X, 172X, 195X, and 209 to city

Queen Street as normal, left Wellesley Street, end trip outside The Civic.

InnerLink

Customs Street as normal, via Fanshawe Street, left Halsey Street, right Victoria Street, then as normal.

105 and 106

Buses will depart ANZ Bank bus stop as normal, left Halsey Street, right Victoria Street, left Franklin Road, then as normal.

110, 125X, 129, 132, 132X, 133, 133X, and 134

Nelson Street as normal, right Cook Street via Mayoral Drive, left Queen Street, left Mayoral Drive, end trip at Mayoral Drive near Greys Avenue.

OuterLink

Wellesley Street East as normal, right Queen Street, left Customs Street via Fanshawe Street, left Halsey Street, right Victoria Street then as normal.

The SkyCity Convention Centre

  • The $700m project is well underway and is due to hold its first conference in October next year.
  • Site: 1.4ha
  • Floor space: 32,500sq m
  • Equivalent to 4 rugby fields
  • 33 meeting spaces of various sizes
  • 5 times larger than existing NZ convention space
  • Able to host events for up to 4000-plus people
  • NZ's largest theatre, able to seat 2850 people
  • NZICC designed by Warren and Mahoney, Woods Bagot, Moller Architects
  • 303-room 12-level Horizon Hotel by Warren and Mahoney, Moller Architects

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.