Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

CTV fire: Gas cylinder ruled out

Police and volunteers work to rescue people trapped in the collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Police and volunteers work to rescue people trapped in the collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan

A fire that engulfed the CTV building after it collapsed in the February 22 earthquake was not sparked by gas bottles inside the office block, a Christchurch City Council investigation has concluded.

The royal commission of inquiry hearing into the collapse, which claimed 115 lives, was told today (Tuesday) that "no evidence" of gas bottles was found at the site.

One of the major issues for bereaved families is the fire which broke out after the collapse in the magnitude-6.3 shake which hit at 12.51pm, killing a total of 185 people.

The Fire Service said previously its investigation had been hampered because of delays and the depth of the fire, making photos and witness accounts useless.

However, it did conclude there may have been a 9kg gas cylinder stored inside the building at the time.

It could have leaked and sparked the fire, the Fire Service said, but there had also been cars inside the building at the time which also could have been a potential cause of the blaze.

Today, the city council's resource consents and building policy manager Steve McCarthy said the gas cylinder possibility had been ruled out.

"There was a suggestion that it might've been part of a cooler cabinet. We've asked our health people for any recollection or record but there's nothing on the file, and there's nothing to suggest a 9kg bottle of LPG gas on that site," he said.

The council had been asked by the commission to trawl council Hazardous Substances Office records to see if there was any evidence of gas bottles being stored inside the Madras St office.

A rescue worker and trained structural engineer, who arrived at the disaster site 30 hours after the collapse, earlier told the commission that he believed crushed cars may have sparked the blaze.

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) support engineer Graham Frost believes the fire may have started in cars in the ground floor car park.

He saw six cars being removed from the building during the recovery stage in the immediate disaster's aftermath were all burnt out.

Mr McCarthy also confirmed today that the CTV building was not recorded at the council as being potentially earthquake prone because it was built after 1976.

The hearing continues.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 Dec 2014 15:12:36 Processing Time: 498ms