Premier Chris Hipkins told reporters that first responders “from around the region” were being pulled in to help put out the fire.
Loafers Lodge, in the suburb of Newtown in south Wellington, advertises itself as “a cost-effective accommodation option” for short and long-term residents.
Paul Jury, who has lived at the lodge for about 18 months, said when the smoke alarm first went off he thought it might be one of many false alarms in recent times. “There were too many false alarms,” he told reporters.
Firefighters arrived at 12:25 a.m. Tuesday to deal with a “very challenging incident.” The fire spread rapidly and burnt the entire roof, he said.
“It doesn’t get any worse than this,” Piatt said said Reporters. “This is a once-in-a-decade fire for Wellington. This is our worst nightmare.
Piatt said the high number of occupants in the building made the rescue difficult. Five people were rescued from the roof, he said.
The country’s housing minister, Megan Woods, said the building had been inspected earlier this year and met the country’s building code standards – including a separate fire alarm system – fire officials confirmed on Tuesday that the building had no sprinklers.
Hipkins said several shift workers live in the building, so it’s unclear how many residents were on the job when the fire broke out.
At this stage, “the cause of the fire is unexplained and police will be working together [Fire and Emergency New Zealand] To determine the cause,” Wellington District Police said In a statement.
A local news agency reported that the fire was spreading considered suspiciousciting a senior emergency services source.
“I’m determined to find out what went wrong here and who’s at fault,” said Wellington Mayor Tori Whanau. Whanau said when he first arrived at the scene on Tuesday morning, he mistakenly believed that all the residents of the hostel had been safely evacuated. “At the right time, we will hold the right people to account.”
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