At least six killed in New Zealand hostel fire, says prime minister
A fire ripped through a hostel in New Zealand’s capital overnight, killing at least six people and forcing others to flee the four-story building in their pajamas in what a fire chief on Tuesday called his “worst nightmare.”
Fifty-two people had made it out of the building but firefighters were still trying to account for others, Wellington fire chief Nick Pyatt said.
Loafers Lodge resident Tala Sili told news outlet RNZ that he saw smoke pouring through under his door and opened it find the hallway pitch black.
“I was on the top floor and I couldn’t go through the hallway because there was just too much smoke, so I jumped out the window," Sili said.
He said he fell onto a roof two floors below.
“It was just scary, it was really scary, but I knew I had to jump out the window or just burn inside the building," Sili told RNZ.
He said he was rescued from the roof by paramedics and treated for a sprained ankle.
The Loafers Lodge offered basic, affordable rooms with shared lounges, kitchens and laundry facilities. It attracted people of a wide range of ages. Some were placed there by government agencies and were considered vulnerable because they had little in the way of resources or support networks.
The hostel is in an industrial area and features billboards on one side. Dark smoke stains extended up the exterior walls on the top story of the building.
Pyatt said firefighters were called to the hostel at about 12:30 a.m. Emergency officials said the building had no fire sprinklers, which Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said was not required in New Zealand’s building code for older buildings that would have to be retrofitted.
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