Monday, April 22, 2024

Fatal fire scene handed over to Police investigators

The Loafers Lodge fatal fire scene has now been handed over to NZ Police by Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).

“While we will continue to work closely with FENZ and other partners, Police are now the lead agency in relation to the fire investigation, and we can confirm that we are treating the fire as suspicious,” said Acting Wellington Police District Commander, Inspector Dion Bennett.

Following a health and safety assessment, officers hoped to enter the building this afternoon to begin a scene examination.

“This scene examination will be an extensive and methodical process, and we expect it to take some time – likely several days,” said Inspector Bennett.

“Alongside the scene examination, officers will be working to locate and recover those who lost their lives in the fire,” he said.

“We know there are many people waiting for news of family and friends – including the residents who escaped the fire and are keenly waiting for news of their fellow tenants.

“I again want to provide the reassurance that we have a large number of officers working on this investigation, with the aim of providing them the answers they need as quickly as possible.”

Police have confirmed reports of a couch on fire inside the lodge at around 10.30pm on Monday night, prior to the fatal fire which occurred around two hours later.

The couch fire was not reported to emergency services at the time, Police said.

“As part of our enquiries, we will be seeking to confirm any link between that couch fire and the subsequent fatal fire.

“A number of officers spent the day at Newtown Park yesterday, speaking to evacuated residents, however we are aware that there may be residents who were evacuated from Loafers Lodge who went to other locations following the fire, and haven’t been at Newtown Park.

“We want to speak to those residents, along with anyone else who may have information which could assist our enquiries.

“We ask that people get in touch with us via 105, referencing Operation Rose,” Inspector Bennett said.

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