Auckland fire: Thousands evacuated as huge blaze erupts at Sky City Convention Centre

Zamira Rahim
Thick smoke blows from a construction site at the convention centre: AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of people have been evacuated after a significant fire at an under-construction convention centre in Auckland sent smoke billowing across New Zealand’s largest city.

Several fire crews, using 23 trucks, are expected to work through the night after a blaze took hold on the roof of the SkyCity Convention Centre, a building large enough to cover four rugby fields.

The blaze broke out at 1pm on Tuesday. Earlier in the day firefighters were seen battling flames on the roof of the centre.

“Due to the smoke from the … fire, we have made the decision to undertake a controlled evacuation of the full SkyCity Auckland precinct,” a spokesperson for the company said.

The company evacuated its iconic downtown tower, as well as its hotels, casino and several corporate offices near the construction site.

“There have been no reported injuries,” SkyCity said later on Twitter, adding that all people at the centre had been evacuated from the site.

Auckland authorities issued a health warning as smoke continued to billow from the centre on Tuesday night.

“If you live or work in the Auckland Central Business District or surrounding areas, take precautionary measures to prevent breathing in smoke,” Auckland Regional Public Health Service and emergency services said in an alert.

“It’s a very, very difficult fire to extinguish,” a spokesperson for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, said.

“We are not on top of the fire but with the resources that have just arrived we should be able to make progress.

“We don’t have any injuries at the moment and we don’t have anybody missing.”

Several fire crews are battling the blaze (AP)

It is unclear how many people were at the centre when the blaze began or what caused the crisis.

Hundreds of construction workers are believed to be among those evacuated from central Auckland.

Auckland’s central business district was left gridlocked as emergency services rushed to the site and members of the public were advised to stay away from the area.

Hundreds of hotel guests in Auckland are believed to be stranded due to the fire.

The centre is being built by Fletcher Building Ltd, New Zealand’s largest construction firm.

The £349m project, which began in 2015, is the biggest of its kind currently underway in New Zealand.

Additional reporting by agencies