WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A devastating inferno ripped through Loafers Lodge, a hostel located in Newtown, Wellington in the early hours of Tuesday. The fire claimed multiple lives, with up to 10 feared dead and 20 still missing. The lack of sprinklers in the building, confirmed by authorities, has further intensified the tragedy.
Fire and Emergency district manager, Nick Pyatt, lamented on the calamitous event, stating:
“This is our worst nightmare. It doesn’t get worse than this. We were confronted with a challenging incident, you don’t get more challenging than this.”
Timeline of the Tragedy
Emergency services were alerted to the fire around 12:30 AM local time. The blaze was well-involved by the time firefighters arrived, with flames engulfing the third floor of the four-story building.
- 12:30 AM: Fire reported at Loafers Lodge hostel.
- Early Morning: Firefighters battle flames, rescue operations begin.
- 9:00 AM: Authorities confirm six deaths, 30 people unaccounted for.
- 9:30 AM: Authorities manage to account for 10 more individuals, 20 remain missing.
Among the hostel’s residents who managed to escape was Chris, who woke to the fire alarm but initially didn’t see anything amiss. He soon heard his neighbor shouting ‘fire’ and saw the hallway filled with smoke.
“I was then thinking ‘what else do I grab’, but then was like ‘ah, f… this I’m out of here,” he recalled.
FENZ Deputy National Commander Brendon Nally confirmed that there were no sprinklers in Loafers Lodge. The cause of the fatal blaze would be investigated, as well as claims that smoke alarms were not activated and whether or not the fire was deliberately lit.
“It is horrendous. I heard the Mayor and she put it beautifully this is a tragic and out-of-scale event that we can’t get our minds around.”
Crews on Ground
Specialist crews, including urban search and rescue (USAR) teams, have begun methodically combing through the smoldering wreckage of the hostel. The building has sustained serious structural damage, making the operation even more challenging.
- Six confirmed fatalities
- At least 30 people unaccounted for
- Many residents relocated to temporary accommodations
As the community grieves the loss of life, authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire, the lack of sprinklers, and claims that smoke alarms failed to activate.
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