A fire blasted through a hostel in the capital of New Zealand overnight. Killing at least six people and forcing others to flee in their pyjamas in what a fire chief described as his “worst nightmare.”
Six victims were discovered. But not all portions of the building had been examined because the roof on the top floor had collapsed. Bringing debris down and making the area insecure. According to Bruce Stubbs, Fire and Emergency New Zealand incident controller.
Officials reported that 52 individuals had survived the building but were still looking for more.
Tala Sili, a tenant of Loafers Lodge, told RNZ that he observed smoke streaming through his door and opened it to find the corridor pitch-black.
“I was on the top floor and couldn’t go through the hallway because there was too much smoke. So I jumped out the window,” Sili explained.
He claimed to have fallen onto a roof two storeys below.
“It was just scary, really scary, but I knew I had to jump out the window or just burn inside the building,” Sili explained to RNZ. He said paramedics pulled him from the roof and treated him for a sprained ankle.
The Loafers Lodge catered to people of all ages by providing basic, cheap rooms with shared lounges, kitchens, and laundry facilities. Some were placed there by government agencies. And were deemed vulnerable due to a lack of resources and support networks.
The hostel contains 92 rooms, and one side is covered in billboards. The top level of the building in an industrial area near Wellington Regional Hospital had dark smoke streaks that went up the outer walls.
Around 12:30 a.m., firefighters were called to the hostel. According to emergency personnel, the building lacked fire sprinklers. Which Prime Minister Chris Hipkins stated were not needed by New Zealand‘s building code for older buildings that would need to be modified.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Although police believe it was not intentionally set. Police Inspector Dion Bennett said the aim was to launch a full investigation Wednesday. Once fire officials gave them access to the structure.