25 Oct 2019

SkyCity convention centre fire: 'We still have active firefighting, there are still flames in pockets'

1:27 pm on 25 October 2019

Central city roads are slowly starting to reopen around the SkyCity's New Zealand International Convention Centre that burned for three days.

Cordons around the almost-finished convention centre will remain around the building site's perimeter, but they have been pulled back which means traffic should move better.

Some roads closures remain. They include Wellesley St (west from Victoria to Nelson, between Nelson and Hobson), and Hobson St (between Victoria and Wellesley), left lane on Nelson St is open (between Cook and Victoria).

Additionally, some bus routes will stay diverted. All cycleways, however, are now open.

Fire and Emergency have released pictures of inside the building that has been burning for three days.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand assistant area manager Dave Woon said all firefighters had done an outstanding job in arduous conditions.

"We still have active firefighting, there are still flames in pockets.

"We're pulling bits of iron off, roofing materials and ceiling materials out. It's very difficult access.

He said the hazards remain the same, but the significant one - the weight roof - has burned away thereby working to their advantage.

"Over the weekend the city is open. We're reducing our cordons, trying to let as much traffic through as we can."

FENZ area commander Mike Shaw

FENZ area commander Mike Shaw Photo: RNZ

The number of firefighters has also reduced.

"Currently, we have six pumping appliances and one active aerial, we're utilising drones at night, we're utilising technology to its fullest."

A large crane will be placed on Nelson St tomorrow morning and it is expected to be out by Monday.

FENZ assistant area commander Mike Shaw said they were still in the technical part of the operation: "We're still fire fighting."

"Our investigations have started. That involves a very big part of the investigation teams that will be working in the building, we don't know how long that is going to take."

It could take a couple of days or even a week, he said.

Mr Shaw couldn't say where or how the fire started.

Several days to pump out millions of litres

Auckland council Safeswim programme manager Nick Vigar

Safeswim programme manager Nick Vigar Photo: RNZ

The results of the basement water quality results came in yesterday and relieved immediate concerns, Auckland Council said.

"The water in the basement had some hydrocarbon contamination, but it was sufficiently low that Watercare were confident that it could be thoroughly treated at the Mangere wastewater treatment plant. So there would be no impact on their wastewater network or the Manukau Harbour," Auckland Council Safeswim programme manager Nick Vigar said.

Before the results, water was being directed to the stormwater drains, but about 6.30pm yesterday it was switched over to the wastewater network.

"That's estimated to take four to six days to pump down."

There was eight million litres of water in the basement of the convention centre.

Of it 1.8 million litres was pumped into the stormwater network over 20 hours, he said.

"I'll stop short of saying there's no risk to the harbour. We're still awaiting ecotoxicology results."

He urged everyone near the CBD waterfront to still treat the water as hazardous and there was a swim alert up at St Mary's Bay.

Smoke risk

Health authorities say smoke from the fire has got into many nearby apartments and office blocks and warned that smoke particles can stay inside buildings.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service said babies and young children may be most exposed to pollutants on surfaces.

It advised people to open windows to air out buildings, check air conditioning units, and wipe down surfaces in their homes.

It said there would still be some smoke in the city as fire hotspots were extinguished and people were still advised to stay away from the smoke.

SkyCity told RNZ it would be reviewing all parts of the emergency response it took.

"We are confident with how we executed our evacuation and crisis management response. As always, there will be some learnings which will help us in future events or responses."

SkyCity said it was focused on getting back up and running.

SkyCity opening times

SkyCity Casino - open from 8pm Thursday 24 October

Sky Tower - open from 9am Friday 25 October

The SkyCity Hotel Auckland and SkyCity Grand Hotel will reopen on Friday 25 October at 3pm

Depot - Open from 7am Friday 25 October

Fed Deli - will re-open from midday Friday 25 October (note, no late night on Saturday 26 October)

The Grill - Open from noon Friday 25 October

Gusto - Open from 12pm Friday 25 October

Masu - lunch from 12pm Friday 25 October

Huami - Open from 5.30pm Friday 25 October

Fortuna - Open from 5.00pm Friday 25 October

Andy's Burgers and Bar - open from 11am Friday 25 October

Bellota - open from 4pm Friday 25 October

Sky Café - open from 9am Saturday 26 October

Orbit will be open from midday Friday 25 October

The Sugar Club open from 5pm Friday 25 October

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