SkyCity fire: Firefighters continue to battle flames, commuters urged to 'work from home', health risks you need to know

Publish Date
Thursday, 24 October 2019, 8:00AM

KEY POINTS:

• Hotspots are flaring up on the SkyCity convention centre rooftop, which is about 85 per cent burned through.
• At the fire's peak, 130 firefighters were battling the inferno, which has been burning since 1.15pm on Tuesday
• Fire crews were hoping the roof will have burned through by 8pm but flames are still emerging and being quickly doused by water cannons.
• Air pollution levels in Auckland's central city exceeded the safe standard for the first time in 10 years
• Fletcher Building confirmed there was no fire alarm system on incomplete centre levels
• Inside convention centre fire: Expert explains what's driving blaze
• SkyCity fire: Health risks from toxic smoke explained
• Auckland Regional Health Service has released its latest advice after SkyCity's convention centre fire

Firefighters continue to attack flames flaring up on the rooftop of the New Zealand International Convention Centre with a barrage of water to keep the blaze contained.

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Fresh flames are visible this morning on the eastern side of the building. Firefighters' current priority is to protect the sides of the building not already damaged.

The inferno at SkyCity's new convention centre that sent a haze of smoke over Auckland and closed major roads was overnight coming under control but its effects are expected to be felt well into the future.

At its peak, 150 firefighters and 30 fire appliances battled the blaze in the $700 million New Zealand International Convention Centre, which was still under construction.


Photo / NZH

Nearly all businesses around the scene of the fire closed yesterday and more disruption is expected today.

Auckland Council, the Auckland District Court, the Central Library and the City Art Gallery also shut their doors for the day.

The official advice from road authorities is to stay away and work from home if you can.

"Please avoid any unnecessary travel," Auckland Transport said.

"If you can work from home [today] or from a non-central location or start work later in the day, we recommend you do so".

The closures in place are the immediate area around the building, which takes out big chunks of Nelson St, Victoria St West and Hobson St.

Meanwhile, one firefighter was taken to hospital yesterday with moderate injuries after being struck by a piece of falling roof and suffering a concussion.

"It was unusual, and may have been flicked off in the wind," Devlin said. "It is not what we want to happen, and [why] we have been very careful with internal operations."

St John confirmed to the Herald a further five people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.


Photo / NZH

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who visited the site yesterday, said she wanted to acknowledge the firefighters who had been working under difficult circumstances.

"The team on the ground have been incredibly professional, very focused on what they can do to preserve the building."

Aucklanders went out of their way to help with pizza and sushi donated to the crews, and one man drove up to the cordon, dropped off a tray of bottled water and shook a firefighter's hand before driving off.

Viaduct restaurant and pub HeadQuarters offered firefighters free meals, drinks and a place to lie down.

"Don't even ring, just turn up. We know you, you know us, you're gold, and we owe you this."

What you need to know health-wise:

The Auckland Regional Health Service has released its latest advice after SkyCity's convention centre fire, which has been burning since Tuesday afternoon.

I live or work in the city, is there anything I can do?

If you work in the city and can stay away, please do so. If you have children attending early learning services in the city, please keep them at home.

If you live or work in the area of the smoke plume, you could consider leaving if you are experiencing discomfort from the smoke.

If you live in the city and do not wish to leave your home, please keep out of the smoke as much as possible. Please stay inside with windows closed and air conditioning off. Talk to your building owner or business owner if you don't control your air conditioning.

If you are living in the area and you need to go outside, try to keep away from the smoke. This means staying well out of the plume if possible.

Should I wear a mask or a scarf?

Covering your mouth and nose will stop the larger particles, but won't keep out the fine particles of air pollution. Keep out of the smoke if you can.

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Where can I find more information?

Businesses and employers can visit the WorkSafe NZ website.

For information on wastewater, air quality and buildings see Auckland Council.

For health advice please phone Healthline 0800 611 116.

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