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SkyCity fire: Eight million litres of water in basement

SkyCity fire: Eight million litres of water in basement

Firefighters say the blaze at the SkyCity International Convention Centre in central Auckland us still active, but they are moving into a recovery phase.

A crane was been brought in to help put out the fire earlier today. Photo: RNZ/Amy Williams

In a press conference this afternoon, Fire and Emergency said they were locating and extinguishing hot spots and any fire that was in the interior of the building.

They hoped to reduce the cordons soon, but it's likely a cordon in the immediate area around Nelson Street, Wellersley Street and Hobson Street will remain up for some time..

Auckland Council's Safeswim manager Nick Vigar said there was believed to be about 8 million litres of water in the basement, and at this stage they do not know the level of contamination.

He said there was an urgent need to remove this, and it was currently going in to the storm water network and being discharged into the Viaduct Basin.

He said they were looking to pump the water over to the wastewater network.

"We don't take it lightly to pump it out into the environment and as soon as we can stop pumping it out into the environment we will."

SkyCity is set to begin reopening its precinct later today.

The Sky Tower, casino, hotels, carpark and restaurants have been shut since the massive fire broke on the roof of the under-construction SkyCity's New Zealand International Convention Centre just after 1pm on Tuesday.

The company said it would be working with Fletchers to investigate the damage to the international convention centre and work out how best to rebuild.

Fire and Emergency let the roof burn out and at about 7am this morning managed to bring the fire under control.

They said they had thermal imaging cameras and drones up to find hot spots and flare-ups, and they believe the mission will go on through the night.

Equipment from Ports of Auckland is being hauled in to pump out millions of litres of water flooding the basement of the building.

Read more:
As it happened: SkyCity fire - day three

Fire and Emergency said it was talking with Fletcher Building and Auckland Council about how to dispose of the water, which had built up over the last three days.

An Auckland Council spokesperson said the water was being tested and NIWA and Watercare were also on the scene.

Close to 100 cars in the convention centre's carpark had been affected by water damage, SkyCity has confirmed.

It said cars parked on level B4 belonged to SkyCity employees and it would cover costs that were a result of water damage and employees would be fully compensated.

Health concerns

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is still asking people to keep away from this part of the city.

"The air quality should start to improve."

Auckland public health authorities are encouraging central city residents and workers to stay indoors if at all possible.

For those with children attending early learning services in the central city, the advice remains to keep them at home.

Auckland medical officer of health Denise Barnfather said people, especially those with respiratory problems should keep out of smoke if possible.

"We're still awaiting analysis of the components of the smoke. We know that smoke contains toxic matter and other pollutants that can have harmful health effects."

She said face masks wouldn't be able to keep out fine particles of air pollution but covering the nose and mouth would stop larger particles.

Otago Medical School lecturer Lutz Beckert said the toxins in the smoke were likely to be carcinogenic.

But he said people exposed to it for a couple of days wouldn't be harmed.

Professor Beckert said people near the fire who have underlying lung conditions, such as asthma, should make sure they were taking their preventive medication.

Road closures

With road closures and bus diversions still in place, drivers are being told to expect significant delays.

Auckland Transport said while the city was open for business, people should avoid travelling around the central city at peak hour, and leave earlier or later if they could.

Train services aren't affected by traffic diversions, so if people have the option to travel by train, they should.

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