Firefighter battling SkyCity blaze taken to hospital after being concussed by debris from failing roof

Source: 1News

5.10pm:  This concludes 1 NEWS Now's daytime updates on the convention centre fire.

Click here to view the live updates for this evening.

4.50pm:   Click here to watch the Prime Minister's full comments on the fire.

4.40pm:  Jacinda Ardern has praised the "incredibly professional" firefighters for their efforts fighting the blaze.

She says APEC 2021 will still be in Auckland and the Government has a contingency plan.

4.30pm:  It has been confirmed that a firefighter was taken to hospital early this afternoon with concussion, after part of the roof fell on him.

4.25pm:  Fire and Emergency NZ have given an update on the fire.

They say they are“winning the battle against the fire” and it is contained.

However, they say it will be "some time yet" until the worst is over and there are still challenges over entry to the building.

3.50pm:  1 NEWS has been told that people have been able to retrieve their cars from the SkyCity car park.

One man says he was personally escorted to his car and guided out by a security guard.

The guard thought maybe 40 per cent of cars were still to be retrieved.

He said it smelt strongly of smoke but looked no different to normal.

SkyCity staff cars are still stuck as they are parked on the Nelson Street side under the fire.

The guard also said he'd been approached by people wanting to know when the gambling tables would be open again.

3.40pm:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has visited the scene of the fire and talked to firefighters battling the blaze.

3.25pm: Fire and Emergency NZ told 1 NEWS a firefighter battling the convention centre fire has been admitted to Auckland Hospital.

They could not confirm the condition of the firefighter at this stage.

3.00pm:  Another emergency alert text has been sent to peoples' phones warning of smoke inhalation in Auckland CBD.

“While we cannot definitively talk to the toxicity of this particular incident, all smoke from fire is toxic,” says Sarah Sinclair, Acting General Manager Auckland Emergency Management.

“We are following the advice of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and we encourage everyone to stay out of the smoke."

2.45pm: Latest update from Fire and Emergency NZ below.

2.10pm:  Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has just tweeted about the fire.

"With the fire dying down, you can see the damage to the roof. It's amazing to see the firefighters still battling away more than 24 hours on.

"A big shout out to all of our emergency staff who are working around the clock."

1.55pm:  NIWA has posted a new timelapse video of the fire which shows smoke but no visible fire on the charred roof.

The new video is the second one down in tweet below.

1.20pm: We're now over 24 hours since the fire started. As an update:

- If you are in the central Auckland area and you can smell smoke, stay inside if possible and keep windows shut.

- People are advised to please stay out of any smoke plumes.

- Anyone with health concerns can call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or contact your GP.

1.10pm: Approximately 70 per cent of the roof has burnt and will continue to burn to 100 per cent. We plan to sacrifice the roof to allow firefighters better access to the fire and are working with the building engineers to make sure this is done safely, Fire and Emergency NZ have said.

1.00pm: If you are within the central Auckland area and you can smell smoke, it is recommended you stay inside if possible and keep windows shut. People are advised to please stay out of any smoke plumes. Anyone with health concerns can call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or contact your GP.

12.14pm: A truncated version of 1 NEWS at Midday has been broadcast from TVNZ's backup studio after smoke forced the evacuation of the company's Auckland CBD headquarters. Watch the latest from our reporting team in the video above.

11.40am: Fire and Emergency NZ have tweeted the following.

11.30am: Once debris have dropped down, crews will then be sent into the building. The timeframe for that is three hours, Mr Devlin said.

11.28am: Further to Mr Devlin's stand-up, he said crews were currently in a defensive position but the plan was to sacrifice the roof and let debris drop down to the fifth floor, which would allow crews to move into an offensive position.

Smoke billows across Victoria Street West near the SkyCity convention centre fire in Auckland.

11.20am: That brings the media conference to an end, we'll have video of that shortly.

11.18am: Mr Devlin says 70 per cent of the roof is on fire and the plan is to let it all burn, which will cause it drop down, making fire fighting efforts easier.

11.16am: Mr Devlin says he is spectacularly proud of the crews fighting the fire. We're rotating crews.

11.15am: The fire started on the north-eastern corner of the building.

11.14am: There are no toxins in the smoke as such, says Mr Devlin, who expects crews to be here for another 24 hours at least battling the blaze.

11.12am: We're in the best position to fight the fire with five aerial appliances pumping 60 litres a second, Mr Devlin has said.

11.11am: Firefighters feel safe combating the blaze, despite one of them being taken to hospital ill yesterday.

11.10am: I don't have any particular concerns about the structural integrity but firefighters are working to keep it that way, says Mr Devlin.

11.09am: The way the materials in the building are laid as a roof is adding to the difficulty of fighting the blaze, says Mr Devlin

11.07am: Mr Devlin said it was a complex fire but he had dealt with more complex fires in his career. Crews are not being helped by weather conditions.

11.05am: The plan is going well so far, a fire chief Rod Devlin said. The plan is to sacrifice the roof and let the debris drop down.

10.56am: We'll have updates from the Fire and Emergency media conference which is scheduled to begin in a few minutes at 11am.

10.50am: A further update from the earlier media conference where SkyCity CEO Graeme Stevens and his Fletcher counterpart Ross Taylor took questions. Mr Taylor confirmed the fire started where blowtorches were being used on bitumen to seal roof joints.

10.45am: Fire and Emergency added to their comment about the potential of using a helicopter to fight the fire. They have said a chopper would not be effective because of the structure of the roof. Firefighters can direct the water to where it can be most effective.

10.35am: That media conference has now ended.

10.33am: Mr Taylor does not want to speculate further on the cause of the fire, saying speculation can be dangerous.

Live stream: SkyCity bosses front media over convention centre inferno

10.31am: The person who spotted the fire saw a bitchumen product on fire on the roof. Protocol says workers should raise the alarm if the blaze is bigger than a certain size, rather than make an effort to put out the fire.

10.29am: The insurer is an international company, says Mr Stevens, who is confident in the credibility of the company.

10.19am: One of the foreman spotted the blaze, Mr Taylor has said. It took 20 minutes to evacuate the building. He said speaking about the cause of the fire would be speculation.

10.16am: We have insurance policies in place, they have been taken out by SkyCity, Mr Stevens has said.

10.16am: It is probably the first time in company history that the company's hotel and restaurants have been shut down.

10.15am: It is impossible to estimate what the cost of the fire will be, Mr Stevens has said.

10.12am: Once the fire has been put out, Fletcher teams will work with investigators before beginning work to make the site safe, Fletcher boss Ross Taylor has said.

10.10am: This was an iconic building yesterday and it will be again, Mr Stevens said.

10.09am: Mr Stevens said he expects SkyCity's buildings to be open yesterday.

10.08am: The damage is significant, Mr Stevens said. Adding that they are working closely with Fletcher.

10.06am: Thankfully we're not talking about human loss, Mr Stevens said. 

10.05am: He said the conservative decision was made yesterday afternoon to evacuate SkyCity's buildings.

10.04am: Mr Stevens thanked firefighters, saying they still have many hours battling the blaze ahead of them. He also said SkyCity had rehearsed their emergency management plans.

10.02am: "This is absolutely devastating for us," SkyCity CEO Graeme Stevens says.

10.00am: SkyCity are fronting media over the situation. They have begun by apologising for the lack of information until now.

9.54am: There is also a strong wind watch in place for Auckland, which will make the job more difficult for firefighters. Stations are recording gusts of 95 to 120km/h with southwesterly winds potentially strengthening in the next few hours before easing off later this afternoon, Metservice has said.

9.51am: Fire and Emergency have put out this comment a short time ago. "Helicopters with monsoon buckets are a firefighting tactic predominantly used for vegetation fires and very rarely used for building fires."

9.18: SkyCity says that investigations into the cause of the fire will begin once the fire is completely extinguished. They will undertake their own investigation, as well as assisting with any other agencies' investigations as required. SkyCity said once the extent of the damage is known, they will be able to give an estimate in terms of the new expected date of completion for the building. They also confirmed the site was insured.

8.46: SkyCity has said in a statement that they will not open any of the buildings in their precinct today, including the Sky Tower, Casino, Convention Centre, hotels and restaurants. The SkyCity carpark also remains closed, with many members of the public still having cars trapped inside. SkyCity will hold a press conference at 10am this morning.

8.09: The weather in Auckland this morning is forecast to include hailstorms as well as a moderate chance of thunderstorms. Winds are forecast to be high, MetService says, with gusts of up to 100kmh in exposed places. The high winds are encouraging the SkyCity fire to burn more fiercely.

7.52: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to travel to Auckland this afternoon, to visit the fire and emergency workers and to meet with SkyCity and Fletchers.

7.49: There is a wind watch in place for much of the North Island today, says Breakfast weatherman Matty McLean. In Auckland, the wind is kicking up flames as firefighters continue to do battle with the SkyCity convention centre blaze. 

“Winds are due to get up to 30 or 40 knots later in the morning,” regional area commander Ron Devlin tells Breakfast host John Campbell. It's “an extremely difficult fire to fight. We’re currently facing an extreme weather warning as well.”

7.42: "This fire is expected to rage throughout the day," says Breakfast Host Hayley Holt. "This is a dark day for Auckland."

An aerial appliance unit battles the SkyCity fire in Auckland.

7.36: "The water is going up but then is being dispersed somewhat by the wind that is blowing the smoke," Breakfast presenter John Campbell says. "This is very much still a fire that is burning 18.5 hours after it began in what has to be regarded as a fairly cursed convention centre."

7.22: "If you can avoid being the the CBD today, then stay at home," the crew of TVNZ1's Breakfast say from their makeshift studio, moved to about 400 metres down the road from TVNZ headquarters after the building was evacuated. Downtown smells heavily of smoke, and roads are closed. 

Hobson Street, where firefighters are fighting the SkyCity fire.

7.20: Over 100 firefighters have been battling the blaze for over 17 hours, and flames can still be seen from the top of the building. Wind has been hampering firefighting efforts. Jacinda Ardern will be travelling to Auckland from Wellington to assess the situation in person. 

7.02: The still-under-construction SkyCity convention centre building is about 30 metres tall - higher than people think, says fire commander Ron Devlin.

"We couldn't get people on the roof because of safety."

6.54: Mayor Goff on the setback the fire has caused to the convention centre project: "It may take years to get back to where we were." The strategy, he says, is now to keep the fire from spreading below level 5. "All credit to the firefighters. We owe them a huge debt."

6.52: Mayor Goff spoke to the fire commander, who says it's one of the most complex and difficult fires he's ever fought. 

6.51: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff tells Breakfast it is "not a great morning for this city".

6.49: Police have warned the public to stay away from cordoned areas due to danger of smoke inhalation. 

A man shields his face from the smoke coming from the SkyCity fire in Auckland.

6.43: Firefighters say the blaze started on the "ocean side" of the building's roof yesterday but since overnight the fire has spread to the other side of the building. However, the blaze is doing pretty much what was expected. 

6.37am: The current official health advisory is to stay well way from the fire and out of the trail of smoke, stay indoors and keep windows closed. Shut down external ventilation if smoke is being drawn into your building. See your doctor if smoke has caused shortness of breath or worsening of asthma symptoms.

Fire appliances on Hobson Street next to the SkyCity fire.

6.35am: FENZ are reminding people to stay away from the Auckland CBD. 23 fire engines are responding to the fire, including one aerial appliance from Hamilton. An additional 20 units and 16 specialist support vehicles are attending also.

6.31am: Firefighters say an older structure would likely have collapsed under such conditions, but that the Convention Centre is still technically "structurally sound".

6.15am: Firefighters say the building can be saved. But authorities said they'll know in the next 24 hours how much damage has been done. The site was scheduled to host APEC in 2021. The massive construction project, however, has been beset by delays.

6.10am: About 30 fire engines remain on scene. Firefighters tell TVNZ1's Breakfast they will have the latest assement on the damage caused by the blaze overnight in about an hour.

6.05am: TVNZ's Auckland CBD building and TV studio has been evacuated. Breakfast, however, will be on air this morning with the latest.


Firefighters again lost control of the large fire at Auckland's SkyCity International Convention Centre overnight as it continued to burn.

Around 100 firefighters and 21 fire engines remain at the scene of the blaze, which ignited around 1.30pm yesterday.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand are in defensive mode as they allow the roof of the building to burn through.

"The level seven roof has been fairly much consumed," Coiunties Manukau area commander Jeff Purcell told 1 NEWS. "The fire is travelling in between the roof service and the ceiling space through compressed straw insulation, soundproof, sound deadening panels, and this is proving extremely difficult to even see where the fire is.

"It's bursting out all around the place up on level six and seven, and we're really trying hard to contain it." 

Fire services have asked residents to keep their doors and windows closed at this stage.