Fire and Emergency confirmed just before 2:30 pm today that the Loafers Lodge scene has been handed over to police.
It comes after Wellington mayor Tory Whanau said safety assessments of the flame-engulfed lodge in Newtown continued earlier today.
Yesterday it was confirmed that six people had died in the fire and one person was in hospital. Some 11 people were unaccounted for.
“[The lives lost] certainly have created a lot of anxiety and sadness,” Whanau says. “We’re very much in a nervous waiting mode because the best-case scenario is that we have no more deaths but we won’t know that for sure until the police have entered.”
An independent reviewer passed the building’s warrant of fitness in March this year under “the current building standards that we have”.
While there were fire alarms installed, the building did not have sprinklers.
And that leaves lots of questions, Whanau says.
Wellington gives awhi to those affected by the Loafers Lodge fire.
“Are our building standards up to scratch? How can we prevent this from happening again?”
Work has begun already to identify other buildings and accommodations in Wellington to urgently check if work needs to be done to keep people safe.
“It is absolutely paramount that the safety of all of our residents is at the top of my agenda.”
Though those who are accounted for have been placed in temporary housing, longer-term housing will also need to be found for them. The Ministry of Social Development and other agencies have had a hand in this, as well as offering mental health support, and a mayoral relief fund has been set up too.
Over $90,000 has been raised by the Wellington public, and the council has put $50,000 into the relief fund.
Support is also being given to Fire and Emergency services on the ground, and Whanau anticipates that the police will need a form of similar support when they go through their investigations.
“While I’ve felt that sadness, I’ve also felt a deep sense of pride in how our community has come together to be patient with what’s happening, so that we can provide support to emergency services as well as those impacted by the fire.
“Our firefighters saved a lot of lives.
“We need to ensure as a community that the whole city, the whole country, is behind them.”