Auckland fire: thousands evacuated as huge blaze takes hold in SkyCity.

Thousands of people were evacuated from central Auckland on Tuesday as a massive fire burned in the heart of New Zealand’s largest city.

The fire started just after 1pm on the roof of the SkyCity convention centre, which is still under construction.

Workers on the site were evacuated immediately but as the fire continued to rage SkyCity management decided to evacuate the entire precinct, including Auckland’s famous Sky Tower, the tallest building in the country.

“Due to the smoke from the … fire, we have made the decision to undertake a controlled evacuation of the full SkyCity Auckland precinct,” a SkyCity spokeswoman said.

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“This includes the Sky Tower, Casino, all SkyCity Hotels and restaurants and corporate offices. Police are on precinct and are available to assist with evacuations if or where necessary.”

One person was admitted to hospital in a serious condition, St John Ambulance said.

The New Zealand fire service asked the city’s residents to stay well clear of the city centre, and said people affected by the smoke should stay indoors and turn air-conditioning off.

Fire engines attend to a fire in the central business district of Aukland New Zealand

Fire engines attend to a fire in the central business district of Aukland New Zealand Photograph: Michael Craig/AP

Every available fire unit in the city had been sent to battle the blaze, and more assistance was travelling north from the city of Hamilton, two hours away.

Fire and Emergency spokesperson Dave Woon said it was “a very, very difficult fire to extinguish” and crews were undertaking interior and exterior attacks, as bitumen, and insulation burnt. There was also some concern for gas cylinders in the area, RNZ reported.

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