Large fire at church in Auckland

2018-12-31 04:15:30

A large fire which gutted a historic church in Mt Eden, Auckland, is being treated as suspicious.

Emergency services attended a fire at St James Church on Sunday afternoon, the plumes of smoke from which could be seen from all around Auckland.

At 9.45pm, one fire engine remained at the scene, according to a Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) spokesperson.

"We'll have trucks there for most of the night just to carry on dampening down [hot spots]. It's 99 per cent out."

FENZ received multiple calls about the fire from 4.40pm on Sunday.

The two-storey building was "well involved" upon arrival.

Fifteen fire trucks, including specialist aerial firefighting equipment, and about 60 firefighters were working on the blaze by 5.40pm.

A police spokesperson confirmed police arrived at the scene shortly after 5pm.

The church, on Esplanade Rd, is believed to have been abandoned, and no-one is believed to have been inside.

Bruce Nixon, who lives nearby on Mt Eden Rd, said crowds were drawn to the area because of the large plumes of smoke.

"It almost smelt like something was burning in the house."

The building looked as if it were "in danger of partial collapse".

Police directed onlookers to safety and cordoned off the area, Nixon said.

"I'm not sure how the buses are going to cope with that."

The St James hall and attached church were built in 1885 and 1900 respectively and were both closed by an Auckland Council dangerous building notice in 2012.

The buildings were the subjects of scrutiny in March this year, as engineers feared the builded posed "significant danger" to the public.

The fire was the third major fire incident in Auckland this week, following a fire at a fruit and vegetable shop in Glen Eden on Wednesday and a poultry farm fire which killed 50,000 chickens in Henderson on Thursday.

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