The Wellington hostel fire that left at least six people dead on Wednesday was believed to be an arson, according to New Zealand police, who also opened a homicide inquiry.
Police Inspector Dion Bennett stated that although they have not made any arrests, they have a list of individuals they like to interview to identify any suspects or persons of interest quickly.
He would not reveal whether they had discovered an accelerant or any other traces of criminal activity.
About two hours before Tuesday’s devastating, tragic fire, according to the police, a sofa fire had occurred at the Loafers Lodge hostel.
They said the couch fire was not first reported to emergency services and were looking into any connections.
Bennett also told reporters that the four-story hostel building’s vulnerable areas need additional reconnaissance and analysis and that he had a “gut feeling” that the death toll might increase.
Police’s perspective had changed since Tuesday when they claimed they didn’t think the fire was purposefully started.
According to Bennett, less than 20 people were still unaccounted for but were not necessarily missing, who added that 92 of the hostel’s guests had been identified by authorities. Police had previously stated that they thought the final death toll would be lower than 10.
Journalist Liam Hockings was one of the hostel’s inmates who was reported missing, according to the news source RNZ. Hockings is the brother, according to RNZ.
Some residents were forced to evacuate the building in their pajamas as the fire tore through the structure early on Tuesday. Others were pulled from windows or the roof by firefighters.
People of all ages may stay at The Loafers Lodge, which provides 92 simple, reasonably priced rooms with communal kitchens, living areas, and laundry facilities. Government organizations sent some people there, and they were seen as vulnerable because they lacked many resources or social networks. An area hospital employed others.
According to emergency personnel, the structure lacked fire sprinklers. According to the country’s building rules, prime minister Chris Hipkins stated that sprinklers were not necessary for older systems that would require retrofitting.