A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?

A huge fire continues to burn through the partially-built SkyCity convention centre in Auckland's central business district.

Here's a brief history of large New Zealand fires, and how they compare.

1946 - A forest fire in Taupō, started by a cigarette butt, lost control, and Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft were required to help battle it.

According to NZ On Screen, about 13,000 hectares of pine forest was destroyed.

A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?
Photo credit: NZ On Screen

1947 - The Ballantynes fire left 41 people dead, and was the worst fire in New Zealand history.

More than 200 firefighters and 20 appliances fought the blaze, according to the Christchurch City Libraries database.

A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?
Photo credit: Peeling Back History NZ

1955 - The Balmoral forest fire in Canterbury started at an old mill building in Balmoral, Canterbury.

According to the New Zealand Journal of Forestry, at its peak, the fire covered about 3200 hectares.

Wind hampered efforts to control the fire, carrying sparks and creating further danger.

Meanwhile, forecasters say the weather isn't on the side of firefighters in Auckland on Wednesday, with gale-force winds expected to batter the central city.

1999 - The Alexandra wildfires in central Otago burned 8200 hectares of vegetation and land, the Otago Daily Times reported, with 60 appliances and eight helicopters used to fight it.

2000 - Infernos in Marlborough raged between Boxing Day and December 28.

The Wither Hills fires destroyed over 6500 hectares worth of stock and land, the NZ Herald reported.

2008 - Explosions that ripped through the Tamahere coolstore in the Waikato, caused by 400kg of flammable propane gas that leaked from a refrigeration system.

Seven firefighters were seriously injured, while senior firefighter Derek Lovell lost his life.

A report into the fatal explosion found the firefighters walked into a death trap.

A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?
Photo credit: File

2017 - Christchurch's Port Hills fires claimed a life and burned through more than 1600 hectares.

The fires broke out in Early Valley and Marley's Hill on Christchurch's outskirts on February 13, before merging into one fire that took 66 days to extinguish fully.

In January 2018, Fire and Emergency New Zealand finished its investigation into the cause of the fire, which concluded the cause was undetermined.

A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?
Photo credit: Newshub.

2019 - The Pigeon Valley Fire in the Tasman District, which began on the afternoon of February 5, eventually burned around 2300ha of commercial plantation forest, property and pastures, and had a final perimeter of 35km.

A home and shed were also lost in the fire.

At its peak, about 150 firefighters worked around the clock to bring the blaze under control.

A history of large New Zealand fires: How does the SkyCity inferno compare?
Photo credit: File

What you need to know about Auckland's SkyCity convention centre fire:

  • A massive fire continues to burn at the SkyCity convention centre in Auckland's central business district.
  • While the fire is believed to be contained, firefighters are trying to stop it spreading. SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens says the fire could continue burning into Wednesday night.
  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand regional manager Ron Devlin says crews will remain at the site for at least another 24 hours.
  • Newshub understands the fire was started by an unattended blow torch. Fletcher Building boss Ross Taylor confirmed blow torches were used near where the fire began.
  • Fierce winds of up to 110km/h are battering the convention centre and the crew battling the blaze.
  • Road closures around the centre caused significant delays for early morning commuters.
  • Mayor Phil Goff confirmed to The AM Show the APEC meeting scheduled to take place at the convention centre in 2021 is unlikely to go ahead as planned. It will still happen in Auckland.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will fly to Auckland to meet with stakeholders.
  • A full evacuation of the SkyCity precinct took place on Tuesday. Nearby TVNZ was evacuated on Wednesday morning.
  • SkyCity facilities - including the Sky Tower, casino, carparks, and hotels - will remain closed on Wednesday.

Follow Newshub's live updates here.

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