Police were notified of reports of smoke coming from the Toomath’s Building at 43 - 47 Ghuznee Street yesterday (Sunday 15 October) around 2:35pm.
The fire was contained yesterday, but Fire and Emergency (FENZ) teams remain on site to monitor the site. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.
The building has an expired earthquake prone building notice and has been vacant since April 2019.
Due to the unstable nature of the building, fire investigators have been unable to gain access to the building. A New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team used drone footage to get some preliminary visuals to assess the situation which shows significant structural damage to the interior of the building.
Fire and Emergency is working with Council engineers today to assess if the building can be entered.
Work is being done to mitigate risks of debris with strong winds forecast.
A cordon is still in place on Ghuznee Street from Marion to Cuba Street, and south bound traffic has no access down Ghuznee Street. Pedestrians and motorists are being diverted and advised to avoid the area if possible. Public safety is a priority so the cordon is likely to remain in place until the façade is assessed for structural damage and secured.
Council environmental health officers have been testing for asbestos and there is currently no evidence of fibres in the area.
Council staff are supporting local businesses which are open in the area, and business and residential rubbish and recycling will be collected from outside of the cordon at normal collection times.
Metlink has been notified and bus routes on Ghuznee Street are being temporarily diverted.
The Council also has a Building Compliance team working with FENZ to provide them with information on the building and the Transport team are helping manage the traffic situation with the Police.
Wellington City Council’s Chief Planning Officer Liam Hodgetts says Council is working with the building owners to determine the next steps for what is left of the building.
“We have actively pursued the owners which has included a complicated and protracted legal process to ensure they comply.”
Timeline: 43 – 47 Ghuznee Street
- December 2019 – Council applied to District Court seeking order to undertake seismic work.
- October 2020 – District Court hearing.
- December 2020 – District Court declines application.
- District Court ruled the Council must first specify the work it intends to undertake so that the Court could, if necessary, undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the intended seismic work, assessed against any competing proposal put forward by the building owner.
- Feb 2021 – Council appealed the decision to High Court.
- July 2021 – Owner lodges Resource Consent to strengthen building.
- December 2021 – High Court issues decision allowing Council’s appeal and granting orders that Council can carry out the seismic work. Council is still required to consult with the owner before carrying out work.
- April 2022 – Owner lodges appeal to Court of Appeal
- April 2022 – Owner received Resource Consent approval from Council to strengthen building.
- June 2022 – Council commences discussions with Owner regarding progress of seismic work and settlement of Court of Appeal proceedings.
- February 2023 – Agreement reached between Council and the Owner; Owner discontinues appeal.
- Mid-March 2023 to present – Ongoing discussions between Council and Owner regarding seismic work to be done. As at 13 October 2023, Council was awaiting further information from the Owner regarding progress of plans for the building.
If you have any information that may assist Police please contact Police on 105 or online via https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 using update report, please reference file number: 231015/6874.
Alternatively you can report any information anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.