The fire burning early on Wednesday morning. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

By Radio New Zealand

Orange flames and billows of black smoke are still coming out from the roof of the SkyCity International Convention centre in Auckland.

Firefighters say they’re trying their best to get the fire under control after it broke out around 1pm yesterday.

Twenty-one appliances are on the scene with laddered hoses trying to reach to the top.

Two lanes are open on Nelson Street, part of Hobson street is closed, and Wellesley Street West is closed between Hobson and Nelson streets.

Auckland Emergency Management said diversions were expected to remain in place until at least mid-morning and commuters should expect major delays.

Read the full story on traffic disruption: SkyCity fire throws city commute into chaos

A Fire and Emergency alert was sent at close to 5am again, asking people nearby to stay out of the smoke, close windows and doors, turn off air conditioning.

The TVNZ central city building and TV studio been evacuated this morning due to the fire, the broadcaster said. The Central City Library is closed and Bauer has asked staff to stay away from the office at the City Works Depot.

Flames engulfed the top of the building yesterday afternoon, starting on the seventh floor – the roof – before spreading to the sixth. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Jacinda Ardern, who usually spends Wednesdays in the capital, changed her plans and will meet with Fire and Emergency this afternoon.

She is also expected to meet representatives from SkyCity and Fletchers.

Firefighters worked into the night, abandoning the roof, and focusing their efforts instead on preventing further spread to the lower levels.

Dozens of fire units were on the scene, with additional help even arriving from the Hamilton Fire and Emergency branch.

Smoke continued to billow from the building into the CBD precinct yesterday, affecting workers and residents nearby. Those in the area have been warned to either avoid the blocks around SkyCity if possible or take precautions to avoid breathing in the fumes.

Niwa yesterday said a wind shift was also forecast this afternoon, which would result in shift of the smoke plume.

SkyCity evacuated its entire Auckland precinct, because of smoke from the fire, with people forced to leave the Sky Tower, casino, all SkyCity hotels and restaurants and corporate offices.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Lately yesterday that they also had to tell staff to leave the council building, adjacent to SkyCity, yesterday afternoon when the hazy atmosphere made their offices “uninhabitable”.

Reminder to plan journey to CBD

As firefighters continue to battle the blaze, it is expected for large amounts of smoke to arise from the building. Yesterday, traffic continued to build in the afternoon amid the road closures and diversions.

The streets surrounding the convention centre are expected to remain closed until at least mid-morning today.

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