...By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
Authorities in New Zealand have launched a homicide investigation following a deadly fire at Loafers Lodge in Wellington.
At least six people lost their lives in the blaze, and police have now revealed that they are treating the incident as suspected arson.
The fire, which occurred in the early hours of Tuesday, caused significant structural damage on the top floor of the hostel, complicating recovery efforts.
Extensive Investigation Underway
Acting Wellington District Commander Dion Bennett stated that investigators would begin their extensive and meticulous scene examination, with the expectation that it would take several days to complete.
Emphasizing that the fire is being treated as arson, Inspector Bennett mentioned that alongside the examination, efforts would be made to locate and recover the deceased individuals.
The investigation is focused on providing answers to the families and friends eagerly awaiting news, as well as the residents who managed to escape the fire.
Hostel’s Occupants and Missing Individuals
Loafers Lodge provided accommodation for a diverse range of individuals, including construction workers, hospital staff, and individuals serving sentences for minor offenses within the community.
Authorities have reported that a number of people are currently missing, though the exact figure is estimated to be less than 20.
It is possible that some of the missing individuals are simply unaccounted for at this time.
Firefighters successfully rescued 52 people immediately after the fire broke out.
Progress and Safety Assessment
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) declared the building safe for police entry earlier in the day.
This step will allow authorities to conduct a thorough search of the premises and collaborate with the police in the recovery of the six deceased individuals.
Bruce Stubbs, the FENZ region manager, stated that their priority was to ensure no one else remained in the building and to support the police in their investigation.
Reports of Previous False Fire Alarms
In the wake of the tragedy, some residents of the hostel have come forward, revealing that false fire alarms were a regular occurrence in the months leading up to the incident.
Tala Sili, one of the affected individuals, shared the harrowing experience of feeling compelled to jump out of a window to escape the fire, describing the situation as truly frightening.
In conclusion, the suspected arson at Loafers Lodge in Wellington has prompted a homicide investigation by New Zealand police.
With the fire being treated as an intentional act, authorities are diligently examining the scene to provide answers and support to the affected individuals and their families.
The focus now is on recovering the deceased and ensuring the safety of the premises.