New Zealand Hostel Fire Kills at Least 6, More Missing

Image copyright: AP [via New York Post]

The Facts

  • At least six people died after the four-story Loafers Lodge hostel in Wellington, New Zealand caught fire just after midnight local time on Monday. Police say more than 50 people have been rescued but 11 still remain unaccounted for.

  • The blaze broke out on the top floor of the hostel, located in the Newtown neighborhood, which provided accommodation for people including construction workers, hospital staff, and those serving sentences in the community for minor crimes.

The Spin

Narrative A

This once-in-a-decade fire is deeply tragic, which is why authorities will swiftly begin investigations into all causes. While some people may be accountable in the end, it is important to remember that the hostel had passed an inspection and the law did not require sprinklers in old buildings such as Loafers Lodge. However, that doesn't excuse the government officials responsible for leaving these already-vulnerable residents exposed to the unsatisfactory safety measures left in place at the lodge.

Narrative B

Police are now alleging arson in this case, and previous incidents of suspicious behavior may prove to be the evidence needed to advance such an investigation. As there was a couch fire about two hours before the larger, fatal fire that destroyed the hostel, authorities need to thoroughly probe each resident of the Loafers Lodge and uncover the criminal behind this easily avoidable tragedy.

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