Christchurch's Antonio Hall fire likely 'deliberately lit' - police

Police believe a blaze at Christchurch's Antonio Hall was deliberately lit.

On Friday evening, 16 fire engines were needed to tackle a fire ripping through the historic Riccarton building which caused the evacuation of 50 nearby properties.

Significant parts of the building on Riccarton Rd were saved and the fire was mostly contained at 8:30pm on Friday night. Some firefighters stayed overnight to dampen hot spots.

Investigators arrived at the fire-ravaged building on Saturday morning and at 1pm, police announced they were investigating "what is believed to be a deliberately lit fire".

"We are currently working with fire safety investigators and engineers to determine if the building is structurally safe enough to be examined," police said in a statement.

Police are speaking to a number of witnesses and "following a strong line of inquiry into how the fire started".

Riccarton Ward Councillor Vicki Buck said the building has not been kept in good condition.

"It is a beautiful old building that certainly doesn't look like it's undergone major repairs since the earthquake, so it's a beautiful old building in need of repair."

Buck says many former students will have good memories of Antonio Hall, a gothic mansion that's been left to fall into disrepair.

"This was a place where many people at Canterbury University, pre-quake, would have lived in - so it will have, for a lot of people, a lot of memories."

But she admits the wider public will have mixed views about the loss.

"I think people will have different views on it. It's been a long time not being repaired, and sometimes that influences people's views of buildings."

No one was injured in the fire.

Anyone with information on the fire or who may have seen suspicious activity near Antonio Hall on Saturday prior to the fire should ring 105.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: