Sky City convention centre fire

The Sky City convention centre was due to be opened later next year, but that looks unlikely now after a major fire started on the building site yesterday. There are still flames and smoke this morning, with the rood allowed to burn in the hopes of saving most of the building.

This morning:

Flames engulfed the top of the building just after 1pm this afternoon – starting on the seventh floor before spreading to the sixth. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Bitumen and insulation is on fire and there are also concerns about gas cylinders in the area.

Hundreds of people were also evacuated from the precinct, including the Sky Tower, because of the smoke earlier in the afternoon.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Lately this evening that firefighters will abandon efforts on the roof of the Convention Centre but their strategy is to stop the blaze from spreading to the fifth level.

Fire and Emergency’s Thomas Harre said it’s been difficult for firefighters to get inside the building and to the top because the fire started in the roof cavity.

The orange glow of flames from the burning centre is clearly visible this evening, and thick black smoke continues to billow from the building.

Fire and Emergency said people may be able to see flames as the crews let some areas burn.

It said this was nothing to be concerned about and was a way to provide access for firefighters to the inside of the building.

Its spokesperson, Dave Woon, said it was “a very, very difficult fire to extinguish”.

RNZ this morning:

SkyCity fire still burning, PM to visit today

Firefighters worked into the night, abandoning the roof, and focusing their efforts instead on preventing further spread to the lower levels.

Dozens of fire units were on the scene, with additional help even arriving from the Hamilton Fire and Emergency branch.

Smoke continued to billow from the building into the CBD precinct yesterday, affecting workers and residents nearby. Those in the area have been warned to either avoid the blocks around SkyCity if possible or take precautions to avoid breathing in the fumes.

SkyCity evacuated its entire Auckland precinct, because of smoke from the fire, with people forced to leave the Sky Tower, casino, all SkyCity hotels and restaurants and corporate offices.

1 News – Live updates: Firefighters continue to battle SkyCity inferno; TVNZ building evacuated

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.

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”.

Phil Goff is saying that he now wonders whether it could put back completion years. The convention centre was to be used for an APEC meeting in 2021, that looks at risk now.

Bets are off Sky City’s stupid gamble

Sky City did a deal with the Government. They got gambling concessions in return for the promise of a convention centre in Auckland.

Now Sky say their cost estimates have gone up and they need financial assistance.

But Len Brown says the Auckland City Council won’t fork out – Ratepayer cash won’t go into convention centre, mayor promises.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the council will not put any ratepayer cash into building or running an international convention centre.

He told the Weekend Herald yesterday that there would be no money for the SkyCity convention centre in a new 10-year budget.

The council and Mr Brown were blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity before Christmas that ratepayers’ money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for the controversial project.

SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470 million and to $530 million.

That doesn’t rule out non-cash assistance such as rates relief, and…

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce floated the idea of ratepayers helping cover operating costs, but has since talked down the idea and suggested the council look at its regulatory fees for the consent and construction process.

But ruling out cash is sensible, and essential.

Who would want to finance a company who makes a deal based on costings that under-esitmated (or under-claimed) the cost by 20-30%?

Sky either cocked up or cooked up a massive con.

And the Government should discount any financial assistance too. They negotiated a deal based on no cost to taxpayers.

If National now bow to Sky’s coercion/attempted blackmail and fork out they will rightfully be blasted for it. It would look  that bad it would be likely to play a major part in the demise of Key’s government.

It would be a stupid business gamble and a very stupid political gamble.

And Sky have made a stupid gamble thinking they can fool us on their cost claims and suck us in to finance their folly.

Call their bluff. If they renege on their deal and ditch the convention centre Sky will be the biggest losers.

In gambling you need to know when to walk away.

Dunne backs convention centre “pragmatic deal”

National needed Peter Dunne’s support for the Sky City convention centre deal and will have made sure they had that before anouncing the deal. Dunne’s main concerns were the number of pokie machines, with up to 500 being talked about.

This has been addressd by reducing the pokie numbers and increasing measures against problem gambling.

  • An additional 230 pokie machines and 40 gaming tables
  • Four new measures to deter problem gambling and money laundering
    • a predictive modelling tool that analyses data to identify players at risk of problem gambling
    • a voluntary pre-commitment system where players can elect to restrict the amount of time they play or the amount they spend
    • doubling the number of Host Responsibility specialists
    • introduction of player identification requirements when amounts over $500 are being put onto, or cashed from, TITO tickets

Dunne has confirmed his support:

Yes, it is a pragmatic deal: assures Auckland gets its world class convention centre, and the number of pokie machines is at the lower end of the scale, which will continue to see the numbers of pokies across the country reduce.

As expected.