Youth arrested, charged over Christchurch Antonio Hall fire

Police have arrested and charged an individual in relation to the fire at Christchurch's Antonio Hall.

The fire broke out at the Riccarton Rd building on Friday night and caused the evacuation of 50 nearby properties.

Sixteen fire engines were involved in tackling the blaze and significant parts of the building were saved. The fire was mostly contained at 8:30pm on Friday night and some firefighters stayed overnight to dampen hot spots.

The person will appear in the Youth Court next week.

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.

While police have investigated a number of people and enquiries are continuing, they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the arson at this stage.

Riccarton Ward Councillor Vicki Buck said earlier that 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.


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