Police are investigating the cause of Monday night’s hostel fire in Wellington, and want to speak to residents.
Acting Wellington District Commander Inspector Dion Bennett says there was a couch fire at Loafers Lodge at around 10.30pm on Monday night, prior to the fatal fire which occurred around two hours later.
“The couch fire was not reported to emergency services at the time. As part of our enquiries, we will be seeking to confirm any link between that couch fire and the subsequent fatal fire.”
PMN News reports six people are dead and 11 people are still unaccounted for. Officers have been speaking to evacuated residents, but Bennet says some residents went to other locations following the fire, and haven’t spoken with police.
“We want to speak to those residents, along with anyone else who may have information which could assist our enquiries.”
Wellington mayor Tory Whānau says it was distressing for everyone to hear there were multiple deaths, and urges locals to cooperate with the investigation.
“They’re part of our community, these are Wellingtonians. These are our people that we lost. We need to give the police the space that they need to do this investigation.”
A team of specialised police investigators from across the country have begun their scene examination, to understand what the cause of the fire is.
Inspector Dion Bennet says the scene examination will be extensive and methodical while they work to confirm the final death toll.
Police have labeled the fire Loafer's Lodge in Wellington as arson. Photo/RNZ Angus Dreaver