Fire at New Zealand hostel kills at least 6 people

A fire ripped through a hostel in New Zealand’s capital overnight, killing at least six people and forcing others to flee the four-story building in their pajamas in what a fire chief on Tuesday called his “worst nightmare.” Six bodies were found but not all areas of the building had been searched yet because the roof on the top floor had collapsed, bringing down debris and making the area unsafe, said Bruce Stubbs, the incident controller for Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Officials said 52 people had made it out of the building alive but they were still trying to account for others. Loafers Lodge resident Tala Sili told news outlet RNZ that he saw smoke pouring through under his door and opened it to find the hallway was pitch-black. “I was on the top floor and I couldn’t go through the hallway because there was just too much smoke, so I jumped out the window,” Sili said. He said he fell onto a roof two floors below. “It was just scary, it was really scary, but I knew I had to jump out the window or just burn inside the building,” Sili told RNZ. He said he was rescued from the roof by paramedics and treated for a sprained ankle. The Loafers Lodge offered basic, affordable rooms with shared lounges, kitchens and laundry facilities to people of a wide range of ages. Some were placed there by government agencies and were considered vulnerable because they had little in the way of resources or support networks. The hostel has 92 rooms and features billboards on one side. Dark smoke stains extended up the exterior walls on the top story of the building in an industrial area near Wellington Regional Hospital. Firefighters were called to the hostel at about 12:30 a.m. Emergency officials said the building had no fire sprinklers, which Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said was not required in New Zealand’s building code for older buildings that would have to be retrofitted. Police said the cause of the fire was not known yet but they didn’t believe it had been