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.

Notre-Dame Cathedral on fire

Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is on fire. There has been major damage, and the spire has collapsed.

The cathedral was being renovated.

Reuters: Paris’ historic Notre-Dame Cathedral hit by fire

A major fire broke out at the medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on Monday afternoon, leading firefighters to clear the area around one of the city’s most visited landmarks.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire. France 2 television reported that police were treating the incident as an accident.

A major operation was under way, the fire department said, while a city hall spokesman said on Twitter that the area was being cleared.

Notre-Dame was in the midst of renovations, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

Wikipedia:  Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris (meaning “Our Lady of Paris”)  is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.

The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral was begun in 1160 and largely completed by 1260, though it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed.

A major restoration project supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845 and continued for twenty-five years. Beginning in 1963, the facade of the Cathedral was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime, returning it to its original color.

Another campaign of cleaning and restoration was carried out from 1991-2000.

And as reported Notre-Dame was undergoing further restoration, which is thought to be related to a possible cause of the fire.

Fizzling ‘fake news’ excuse from Sideshow Don

Politicians have tried to discredit media when they report unfavourable news for a long time. All Donald Trump has done is raise it to new heights of ridiculousness – something that has worked in his favour to an extent, but is likely to turn against him over time. Especially when claims of ‘fake news’ are prove him to be the one trying to fake it.

CNN:  Sorry, Mr. President, the ‘fake news’ excuse isn’t good enough anymore

In Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, President Donald Trump was asked about reporting by a slew of media organizations — including CNN — that he had ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire special counsel Bob Mueller.

“Fake news,” Trump replied. “Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories.”

And that was it. Which is not good enough. Not even close to good enough.

The reporting that Trump had ordered Mueller’s firing is a) deeply sourced b) confirmed — after being first broken by The New York Times — by a number of serious and credible media outlets and c) very detailed as to how and why Trump moved to fire Mueller.

Given both the seriousness of those charges and the depth of the reporting, it is a massive — and, likely, purposeful — cop-out by Trump to simply reply with his standard issue “fake news.”

What about it is fake? Did he not tell McGahn to get rid of Mueller?

Because, if he didn’t, then Trump should come out and say “I absolutely did not — at any time or ever — ask Don McGahn to remove Bob Mueller from the special counsel investigation.”

He didn’t say that. And White House lawyer Ty Cobb didn’t either, refusing to comment on the reports of the Mueller firing out of “respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

Which means, almost certainly, that it did happen.

‘Fake news’ has become an overused Trump euphemism for ‘fuck the news’.

The broad point here is that saying “fake news” is not a denial of the details reported first by the New York Times and subsequently confirmed by a number of other outlets.

What Trump is doing is a sidestep in hopes of creating a sideshow.

A typical Trump tactic. Sideshow Don.

Sure, there is a chunk of people who will take his “fake news” comment as an ironclad assertion that The New York Times is wrong about his move to fire Mueller.

There will probably be a few comments here supporting the ‘fake news’ dismissal plus a few other repeated anti-Trump criticism slogans.

But, that doesn’t mean that saying “fake news” in any way, shape or form clears the air as to what Trump actually did.

It’s an attempt to distract from the serious allegation.

 

Claim that Trump tried to fire Mueller

The New York Times claims Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel.

After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

One could ask why this leak has come out, purportedly from four different sources.

Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.

A typical fake news’ response from Trump:

“Fake news, folks,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.”

But also, from Fox News: Trump was talked out of firing Mueller last June, source says

President Trump told top officials this past June that he wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but was talked out of doing so by White House counsel Don McGahn and other aides, a source close to the White House told Fox News late Thursday.

The source could neither confirm nor deny a New York Times report that Trump ordered Mueller’s dismissal, but backed down when McGahn threatened to resign instead.

However, the source added that then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steven Bannon believed last summer that Trump would fire Mueller and were very worried about the political fallout.

“They said, ‘This is going to blow up,'” the source recounted to Fox.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment on either the source’s account or the New York Times report “out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

Another day, another Trump controversy.

24 story tower fire in London

A disaster has been unfolding in London overnight (afternoon NZ time) with a 24 story block of flats engulfed in flames.

The Telegraph  Grenfell Tower fire: Huge blaze engulfs London flats with people feared trapped

Where was the fire?

It took place in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in Kensington, West London. The residential highrise was built in 1974 and contains 120 homes.

The fire broke out shortly before 1 am, with London Fire Brigade saying it was called at 12.54 am.

What caused it?

The cause of the fire is unknown. London mayor Sadiq Khan has said the fire has been declared a “major incident”.

How many people have been injured?

The picture is still unclear. Thirty people have been taken to five hospitals, but many people are understood to be accounted for.

Police have since said a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries. It is still unclear whether everybody has been evacuated and there are fears that some people could be trapped.

From reports it looks likely there could be a number of casualties.

London fire commissioner Dany Cotton’s statement:

This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale. Firefighters are working very hard at the moment.

This is a major fire that effected all floors of this 24 storey building from the second floor upwards. I have over 200 of my firefighters and officers attending this incident, with 40 fire engines and a range of specialist vehicles, including 14 fire rescue units. We declared this a major incident very early this morning … the first call coming in at 12.54. Our first fire engines were on the scene in under six minutes.

Crews wearing breathing apparatus and extended duration breathing apparatus have been working in extremely challenging and very difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control.

London Ambulance Service have confirmed that 30 people have been taken to five hospitals.

I am very sad to confirm that there have been a number of fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building. It would clearly be wrong for me to speculate further.

Equally the cause of this fire is not known at this stage.

We are working very closely with our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and the London Ambulance Service to bring this situation under control.

Further information will be made available shortly including advice for those concerned about those who are working here and people who live her.

Christchurch (Port Hill) fires

The fires on the Port Hills sound bad, with a large area affected and hundreds of homes evacuated.

Stuff reports Christchurch Port Hills fires: What you need to know

Fires are continuing to rage in Christchurch. Here’s what you need to know.

GENERAL INFORMATION

If you are at all worried or uncomfortable remaining in your home, please evacuate. You can go to any of the city welfare centres for assistance. So far 450 properties have been officially evacuated.

The fire now covers more than 1800 hectares, or 18 square kilometres.

Eight houses are believed to have been damaged by the fire since yesterday, on Early Valley Rd and Worsley Rd.  An earlier police estimate that as many as 40 homes had “been lost” to the flames has been drastically revised.

A total fire ban is now in place from South Canterbury through to the north end of the Hurunui District, including Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

If widespread evacuation is needed, emergency services will inform residents directly.

People are advised to close their windows to keep the smoke from the fires out – especially asthmatics and the elderly

The weather in Christchurch will be dry and warm today, with winds forecast in the afternoon.

So it’s bad and could continue to get worse. And disaster gawkers are causing additional problems.

People are advised to stay away from the hills to allow emergency services access and ensure swift evacuation. Do not rubber-neck.

And auto voice recognition or report mispronunciation is also not up to scratch:

More from Stuff:

From Metservice:

At least 13 dead in Rouen blast

The Guardian is reporting Rouen fire: at least 13 dead in birthday disaster at bar in French city

While anything like this attracts attention it is being described as an accident possibly started by candles from a birthday cake.

A fire thought to have been caused by the candles on a birthday cake killed 13 people at a bar in the French city of Rouen and left at least six others injured, one critically.

Reports said the fire broke out in the basement of the Cuba Libre where the private party was being held on Friday night. At least six people were rescued and received treatment for injuries. The victims were described as being aged between 18 and 25.

Authorities were describing the fire as an accident, possibly started by candles on the birthday cake setting fire to flammable material in the ceiling. According to French media, one of the party-goers was said to have stumbled while carrying a cake with lit candles down the stairs to the lower floor. Flames spread quickly to polystyrene ceiling tiles which gave off a cloud of noxious fumes that choked victims, who were unable to escape.

“There was no explosion, but candles used for a birthday party set light to the ceiling made of polystyrene, giving off a gas that poisoned the victims,” a police official told the AFP news agency.

Lawrence Labadie, local deputy prosecutor, told Paris-Normandie that the fire appeared to be an accident and residents who thought there was a blast had probably heard glass exploding.

So it sounds like an awful accident.

Couch to house fire was inevitable

A house fire in North Dunedin was inevitable, and it was lucky – this time – that there were no deaths. Police noticed the fire and woke and evacuated sleeping residents.

ODT: House fire caused by burning couch

Raucous couch-burning party-goers in Dunedin have accidentally set a house on fire during their partying, police say.

Officers were called to a large party on Castle Street at midnight, where several hundred party-goers at two houses were spilling on to the road.

While containing the crowd, attending officers saw a fire at the back of a different house, and found the flames from a burning couch had spread to the home’s weatherboards.

Police said the occupants were woken and evacuated, and the officers attempted to extinguish the flames before the fire service arrived to put the fire out.

It had begun to take hold within the exterior wall just as it was extinguished, police said. There was damage to the weatherboards.

Inspector Kelvin Lloyd said that it was very lucky that the fire did not cause more damage than it did.

“This incident highlighted the dangers associated with the fire lighting issue in the student area,” he said.

“This is exactly the type of case we have been trying to prevent through the consistent and on-going messaging of police, fire and the university.”

“We need to stop thinking that this is part of the culture of the area, and accept the very real dangers that this type of offending poses. This is more than high spirited antics and will result in a tragedy or injury if attitudes do not change. “

This was an escalation waiting to happen. Unless some way is found to stop the arson in the student area this will probably end up with a tragedy.

Anyone caught committing arson needs to be dealt with severely.

UPDATE: in this News Hub report a fire person says that the couch looks like it was up against the house when set alight.

Witnesses sought after couch burning spreads to house

“Mixing alcohol and fires is a recipe for disaster”.

Non-students causing Otago problems

Past ‘student’ riots in Dunedin are known to have been in part at least stoke up by non-student troublemakers, and not all of them were from Dunedin.

Out of 12 arrests so far this year only 2 have been Otago students.

Newshub reports: Non-students causing problems during Otago Uni orientation

Otago University campus police are generally happy with the behaviour of students during orientation week and say outsiders are causing the issues.

There have been more arrests in Dunedin overnight, with orientation week well underway.

Four people were arrested after couches were set alight on Castle St, where around 150 students were partying.

Police say only two students are among the 12 arrests they’ve made since Saturday night, and they’re seeing a growing number of non-students in the area.

“Unfortunately it is a time of the year where the students can get a little bit out of control, but generally they’ve been very well-behaved this year,” says John Woodhouse, campus constable for Otago University.

There’s about 20,000 students at Otago, with about 4,000 First Year. Most are from out of town. That’s a huge influx into a city or about 120,000 (I’m not sure if that is with or without students).

A number of problems were caused by non-students joining in, including high school students, unemployed people and people coming from outside Dunedin specifically for orientation week.

Non-students who like to party, and a minority non-students who like to cause trouble.

A 16-year-old was arrested over the weekend after allegedly threatening another man with a craft knife.

Unlikely he was going to university.

Generally there’s little sign of trouble and a lot of sign of an injection of vibrancy.

Dunedin is quiet after Christmas as a lot students go home or elsewhere to work for the summer, and many residents go on holiday.

It slowly gets busier through January, and goes up a gear as school starts back around the end of the month.

Soon after that the buzz builds as the uni students gradually return, and by now the city is at it’s busiest as the new academic year kicks off.

So far 0.01% of the students have been arrested.

Woman seriously injured, houses damaged in Mosgiel fire

A big blaze fanned by strong winds yesterday afternoon burned 50-100 hectares near Mosgiel (near Dunedin).

The ODT reports that as a result a women is in a serious condition in intensive care, and ‘up to nine’ houses have been damaged.

Woman hurt in raging fire

A woman is in Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition after a vegetation fire raged across Saddle Hill yesterday.

The flames swept through 50ha to 100ha, damaging ”up to nine” houses and forcing residents and livestock to be evacuated.

Unseasonably hot weather and strong, gusty winds fanned the flames, causing the fire to jump several roads.

Smoke was dense in places and the heat intense. St John Coastal Otago territory manager Doug Third said ambulance staff transported a woman to Dunedin Hospital in a ”serious condition”.

She remained in intensive care last night.

A series of photos were posted on Facebook showing how quickly the fire grew.

Scary.

There was some rain late yesterday afternoon but it cleared and strong winds have continued overnight.