Fletcher Building has confirmed there were no automatic fire alarms installed on the incomplete levels of the SkyCity Convention Centre - which is burning into its second day - and the blaze was spotted by a supervisor.
The company's boss Ross Taylor and SkyCity's chief executive Graeme Stephens fronted media this morning at a press conference in Auckland, just blocks from the raging fire.
Taylor also said blowtorches were being used on bitumen to seal joints at the site and that is where he believes the fire started.
He said the convention centre remained an iconic piece of infrastructure and Fletcher Building was "committed" to ensuring it was completed.
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"We understand this is a very important project.... and we are resolute that we will get this project finished."
Stephens said the fire "has been absolutely devastating" for SkyCity.
He said he was at the convention centre site yesterday morning in a hard hat checking out progress.
"We were literally signing off hotel rooms and you could see the internal shape... I left the site very buoyed, very excited."
Hours later he got the call about the fire.
Stephens thanked front line emergency services staff and acknowledged their "immense efforts" in fighting the fire.
He said SkyCity had a crisis management plan that he hoped he would never have to activate.
But to see his staff pitching in and the plan being implemented was heartening.
He said the evacuation process was started early and included finding alternative accommodation. He did so to ensure it did not become a crisis situation and the evacuation could be done over hours.
"Very thankfully we are not dealing with human loss," he said.
"This is a discussion around buildings and money and time - but not people."
Stephens acknowledged SkyCity customers and said the hotel, restaurants and conference areas were all full when the evacuation began.
"Hopefully we can make it up to them."
Stephens was confident the project could be rebuilt and open in the future.
"The damage is significant, the fire is still raging.... that will lead to a material delay. We don't know the extent of that yet."
He vowed to 'resurrect' the centre and "get the "phoenix out of the ashes".
Taylor said fire drills were done regularly, and the site was evacuated "very quickly, very effectively". as a result of those protocols.
"We were very comfortable quite quickly that we'd managed that evacuation."
He said the focus after that was supporting the emergency services.
"They're doing a great job, there's been a lot of them there working... I want to thank them very much."
Taylor said the site was "in full swing" yesterday and a lot of people were affected.
Many were emotionally connected to the project and others had personal belongings on the site.
They are all being paid, Taylor said.
"We're hopeful that the fire is under control sometime today."
Taylor said there would be an investigation into the cause of the fire. He was working with FENZ and WorkSafe.
Aside from the investigation, once the fire was out Taylor had to work out how to get workers back into the site.
Before that happened a full assessment was needed and staff would not be sent in until it was completely safe.
Both CEOS said it was "virtually impossible" to estimate the economic impact of the fire at this stage.
Stephens said there were impacts to building and from the delay - as well as the hospitality side.
Stephens confirmed insurance was in place and they were "robust" and with "credible insurers".
The policies had been taken out by SkyCity but there was also project insurance that Fletcher Buildings was a party to.
Taylor said he would not speak further on the specifics of the policy.
He said the company was in a "very very strong position" and the fire would not destroy that.
"Fletchers is committed to getting the project finished, and we will."
He said there was no alarm system on an active construction site - and the fire was spotted and reported by a supervisor. He said protocols were in place and worked well.
It took just 20 minutes to evacuate the site.
Fletcher Building later clarified that there were active alarm systems on all completed floors.
"It was on the floors still under construction where there were only manual alarm systems," a spokeswoman said.
A full assessment would need to be done when the fire was out, and there was bound to be significant water damage which also had to be factored in.
He could not quantify how long it would take to start the rebuild.
"We can't quantify from the outside what the damage is," Taylor said.
He rejected any suggestions that workers on the site were under deadline pressure.
"It's safety first . . . I can categorically say that would not be the environment that existed on the site."
Stephens said the Prime Minister was intending to visit Auckland today. She had been in contact with the SkyCity team.
He confirmed staff on shift last night were fully paid despite "spurious" rumours to the contrary.
"It's just devastating for both teams," he said.