Saturday, December 2, 2023

Large housing complex damaged by fire

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Firefighters extinguished a blaze at a large housing complex in Huntington Park on July 24. Times photo Wayne Martin

A public housing development in east Auckland, which is under construction, has been damaged in a large blaze.

It’s understood Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) was alerted to the fire at the Kainga Ora complex in Guys Road, Huntington Park, at about 5.30am on July 24.

Multiple fire trucks, including from Howick fire station, were present when the Times visited the scene at about 10am.

Water from a fire hose atop a crane was being used to dampen the interior of the building, the steel frame of which is exposed.

Part of Guys Road was blocked to traffic as firefighters removed bent and burned steel from inside the building’s ground floor. A fire investigator was at the site also.

A member of the public at the scene said he didn’t see the blaze when he drove past the area at about 5am, but when he returned shortly after 6am the building was alight.

The man said he saw a police car nearby.

A spokesperson says police were called just after 5.30am.

“At this stage there are no reports of injuries. Enquiries into the circumstances of the fire are continuing.”

The building’s interior was heavily damaged by the fire. Times photo Wayne Martin

John Tubberty, Kainga Ora regional director for central and east Auckland, says the 48-home development in Guys Road is being built in stages by developer Gemscott.

It’s due for completion in mid-2024.

“The block where the fire occurred was reasonably well advanced,” Tubberty says.

“Fire and Emergency New Zealand is responsible for investigating the cause of the fire.

“Once FENZ has completed its investigations, we will work with Gemscott to understand what impact the fire will have on timeframes for the final completion of this development.”

The Times reported in May that 640 people had signed a petition calling for a halt to a plan to build dozens of new public housing places in Huntington Park.

Officials from Kainga Ora fronted a heated public meeting held earlier this year in Botany to discuss the agency’s development in the community.

The Times was told by people who attended the meeting that irate residents shouted at the officials, who threatened to leave if people didn’t calm down.

The Huntington Park Residents and Ratepayers Association was planning to write to Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods, the Howick ward’s two councillors, and Howick Local Board about the group’s opposition to the project.

It was considering taking legal action to try to stop the development also.

The group was disappointed in what it says was a lack of consultation with residents about the development and other potential issues relating to vehicle parking and housing density.

Tubberty previously said the Huntington Park public housing development would add 48 “much-needed” new one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes, as well as 62 off-street parking spaces and a community room for residents.

He said there’s an “urgent need” for more public housing across New Zealand.

There were 291 households on the Ministry of Social Development’s housing register within the Howick Local Board area in March.

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