New Zealand battles to rein in blaze at convention center

Fire and emergency crews are fighting to bring the blaze under control, police said in a statement. (Reuters)

New Zealand fire services were battling a massive blaze on Tuesday on the roof of a convention center being built in the city of Auckland, considered to be the country’s biggest current building project.

The fire, which broke out at the SkyCity Convention Centre, is close to the Sky City tower in downtown Auckland. Videos posted by witnesses on Twitter showed fire and black smoke billowing from the roof.

“Fire is really building,” Auckland’s mayor, Phil Goff, said on Twitter. “People can be seen on the roof.”

Fire and emergency crews are fighting to bring the blaze under control, police said in a statement, adding that they were assisting Fire and Emergency NZ with cordons and evacuations of workers.

About 23 fire trucks from across greater Auckland had responded to the blaze, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

“There have been no reported injuries,” SkyCity said on Twitter, adding that everyone had been evacuated from the convention center, with Sky Tower and a casino closed until further notice.

Construction workers were among the hundreds of people evacuated, media said. Traffic came to a standstill in central Auckland, with people asked to avoid the business district and urged to take precautions against inhaling smoke.

The NZ$703-million ($452-million) SkyCity Convention Centre, which sits on a 1.4-hectare (3.5-acre) site, with a floor space of 32,500 sq m (349,827 sq ft), is considered to be New Zealand’s biggest building project.

Owned by New Zealand casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group, the project has been plagued by delays.

The country’s largest builder, Fletcher Building Ltd , is building the center. Shares of SkyCity were down four percent at NZ$3.82 on the New Zealand exchange after the fire reports.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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