At least one school is closed and evacuated residents are taking shelter in a church after fire ripped through homes on Coronation Rd in Māngere Bridge.
Firefighters from across Auckland raced to the large blaze which saw five homes razed in the fire, which was reported just before 3am.
Emergency services also evacuated houses neighbouring the blaze, which was next to the market garden and church opposite Black Bridge Reserve.
At least one Māngere school is closed for the day due to asbestos fears from this morning’s fire.
Nearby Mountain View School has told parents to keep children home from class saying there would be a public health warning sent regarding the blaze.
Mangere Bridge School is open but children will be inside for at least the next hour until the school hears from authorities.
Cindy Taylor from Tadpoles Early Childhood Centre in Mangere Bridge said children had already arrived for the day and staff were keeping them all inside until they had heard from the public health authority.
“They said they were having a meeting at 9.15am and they’d call straight away,” she said.
The centre was expecting all 75 registered children to arrive today ranging from 6 months to 5 years.
“If we are given the instruction to stay inside for the day we will be closing the centre and sending them home,” she said.
Residents take refuge
More than three dozen people living in the homes have now been taken into a nearby Tongan church where they were sheltering after losing their homes.
Earlier several road blocks were in place manned by fire and police, with a stretch of Coronation Rd closed between Walmsley Rd and the Coronation Rd off-ramp to State Highway 20.
The offramp is now open but a section of Coronation Rd remains closed.
Fire and Emergency northern shift manager Gareth Lewis said multiple calls had come in from 2.58am about a house fire in the suburb.
“On arrival, we found multiple houses well involved in fire,” he said.
Just after 5am the blaze was at a third alarm, with 14 fire trucks in attendance including three ladder trucks and three specialist appliances.
Everyone was accounted for and fire investigators were attending.
St John said one ambulance attended the scene but no patients were treated.
Crews attending include those from Māngere, Onehunga, Mt Roskill, Papatoetoe, Ōtāhuhu, Remuera, Balmoral, Ellerslie, Avondale, Auckland City and Ōtara.
Houses evacuated, church unscathed
A photographer at the scene said the fire was behind and to the west of the church at 148 Coronation Rd, Siasi Tokaikolo ‘ia Kalaisi - ‘Api ko Nasaleti.
However, the church did not appear to be damaged. He could not see if firefighters were protecting the building. When he arrived a fire service ladder truck was blasting water from the air.
Police said in a statement they had set up a cordon around the affected area and evacuated residents of nearby addresses on Mountain Rd and Koru St as a precaution.
The Herald’s photographer said many families on Kamaka Rd had also left their homes as they were close to the fire and fire crews were protecting properties on Koru St close to the blaze.
Dozens of neighbours were standing around watching. He could hear three or four small explosions or bangs and thick smoke was drifting over Māngere.
A firefighter at the scene told TVNZ five structures had been destroyed after the fire began in an old building. Due to the age of the buildings there could be an asbestos risk.
Daylight shows twisted metal, buildings destroyed
After 7am a Herald photographer said there were still four fire trucks at the scene and a ladder truck was still being used to hose down the smoking ruins of several buildings behind the church.
He said the buildings that had been destroyed were not like typical houses, describing them as more like small chalets.
Twisted corrugated iron is all that remains of most of the buildings.
A few people were still watching on.
It’s the second major fire in the city overnight, with 13 fire trucks attending an earlier blaze at a refuse station on Auckland’s North Shore.
The fire at the North Shore Refuse Transfer Station in Rosedale was called in around 8.30pm. Crews attended for several hours, Lewis said, and the fire has now been extinguished.
Fire investigators have also attended the scene.
More to come.