Thursday, April 25, 2024

Kainga Ora ‘extremely disappointed’ over suspicious blaze

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The Kainga Ora building damaged by fire on July 24 will provide housing for 48 families. Times photo Wayne Martin

A fire that broke out at a large public housing development under construction in east Auckland will delay the completion of much-needed homes for families in need.

That’s the view of Kainga Ora regional director for central and east Auckland John Tubberty about a “suspicious” blaze in the complex in Guys Road, Huntington Park, in the early hours of July 24.

He says the agency’s development on two sites will predominantly house smaller families and put a roof over children’s heads.

Kainga Ora is “extremely disappointed” the fire is now deemed suspicious by police, Tubberty says.

“It will delay the completion of much-needed homes for families.

“We have been contacted by people to express their concern about the matter.

“It is still too early to know exactly how long any delays will be.

“For now, that is a matter for our development partner, Gemscott, and they will advise us as soon as they are able.”

As previously reported, Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) was alerted to the fire at the building at about 5.30am.

Photos posted to social media the morning of the incident show the complex engulfed in flames.

Multiple fire trucks were still present at 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 was 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.

The large housing complex was damaged by fire on July 24. Times photo Wayne Martin

On July 25 a police spokesperson said officers are working to investigate the fire’s circumstances.

“The fire was initially reported to police after 5.30am on Monday.

“We can confirm the fire is being treated as suspicious and extensive damage has occurred at the site.

“An initial scene examination has been conducted and further enquiries remain ongoing.”

Tubberty says the 48-home development is being built in stages and was due for completion in mid-2024.

Almost 300 east Auckland individuals and families were on the Ministry of Social Development’s housing register as of March.

“The Huntington Park development will eventually provide 48 homes for families in need of a modern, warm and dry place to call home,” he says.

“It’s really sad that this fire will be forcing families to live in less than desirable conditions in the meantime.”

The Times reported in May that 640 people had signed a petition calling for a halt to the development.

The Huntington Park Residents and Ratepayers Association was considering taking legal action to try to stop it.

People with information on the fire can phone police on 105 quoting the file number 230724/0959.

Alternatively, phone the free and anonymous Crimestoppers tip-off line on 0800 555 111.

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