Boy Scouts forced to run for their lives after fire at Wellington marae

A group of Boy Scouts had to run for their lives after a Wellington marae went up in flames.

Tapu Te Ranga Marae caught fire just after midnight on Sunday. 

The 27 Boy Scouts were inside the Island Bay marae when the fire started and were forced to run for their lives, said leader Hayden Nicholls.

"There's no question about it, it was minutes. They left the building and by the time they were down the drive, sort of ten minutes away, the building was fully engulfed in flames," he told Newshub.

Nicholls said the escape was so urgent, the boys left everything behind.

"A lot of them left with pyjamas on, missing shoes and things like that because they were just like 'fire, get out.' and that's what they did,"

Fire and Emergency suspect the fire was set deliberately.

"When the first crews arrived it was completely involved so it was an external attack," said assistant area commander David Campbell.

Nicholls says the boy scouts who escaped the flames are dealing with trauma.

"I understand some of them are quite upset at the moment, our leaders are quite upset too obviously. Scouts NZ has processes in place in which to look after our youth and our leaders and those are all being accessed and sorted out in the next day or two," he told Newshub.

The 11-level marae was constructed in the 1970s, and a Givealittle page to fund it's reconstruction has raised over $40,000.