Fifty-two people have been accounted for, Wellington fire commander Nick Pyatt told the AM program.
Located in the suburb of Newtown in southern Wellington, Loafers Lodges advertises itself as “a cost-effective accommodation option” for short- and long-term residents.
Firefighters arrived to the hostel at 12:25 a.m. on Monday, to face “a very challenging incident,” Pyatt said. The fire rapidly spread up and burned up through the roof, he added.
Pyatt said the large volume of residents in the building added to the difficulty of the rescue mission. Five people were rescued off the roof, he added.
Prime minister Hipkins said there were many shift workers living in the building, so it is unclear how many residents were at work when the fire started.
“At the stage the cause of the fire is unexplained, and Police will be working alongside [Fire and Emergency New Zealand] to determine cause,” the Wellington District Police said in a statement.
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