A resident living in a torched hostel in New Zealand was forced to jump from a fourth-floor window onto a roof in a desperate attempt to save himself.
Tala Sili was at the Loafers Lodge Hostel in Wellington early Tuesday morning when the building caught fire, killing at least 10 residents. The death toll is expected to rise with at least 11 missing.
The 92-room hostel has been home to hospital workers, kiwis deported from Australia, meat workers, pensioners and former prisoners released by the community.
Mr. Sili lived in the hostel for a year and said he sprained his ankle and jumped frantically out of the top floor window onto a roof two stories below.
“I was on the top floor and I couldn’t get through the corridor because there was just too much smoke, so I jumped out the window,” Mr Sili told Radio NZ.
Tala Sili is now on crutches after jumping from a fourth-floor window onto a roof two stories below after the Loafers Lodge hostel in Wellington was set on fire
“It was just scary, it was really scary, but I knew I had to jump out the window or just burn in the building.”
Mr. Sili was rescued from the roof by paramedics with a ladder and is now on crutches.
He said that while he couldn’t see the flames themselves, he could feel the fierce heat of the inferno.
“The smoke was very dark and heavy, it smelled like poison,” he said NewsHub.
“I’ve actually lost everything.”
Tala Sili was at the Loafers Lodge Hostel in Wellington early Tuesday morning when the building caught fire (pictured later Tuesday morning)
The hostel went up in flames. Authorities suspect the fire was set on purpose
Another resident, Tamrat Isse Adan, who has been living in the hostel since last year, is now concerned that his neighbor may not have survived alive.
“I am very sad, very sad. My neighbor, he is missing, maybe he is dead, the police say many people are missing. Very sad,” he said Stuff.
Mr. Adan was in his room on the second floor when he realized a fire had broken out and he has now lost everything except his phone and a jacket.
“When I came off the toilet, there was smoke everywhere… people running everywhere. I just jumped to my room and I grab my coat and my cellphone, that’s all,’ he said.
Firefighters are seen at the scene of the fire. At least 20 fire engines were called
He said the smoke alarm went off several times a week, so the hostel residents didn’t think much when it went off.
A resident of the Loafers Lodge Hostel, Chris, who has lived on the third floor since November, said the stairwell was covered in “thick, black smoke.”
“It was hard to breathe,” Chris told NewsHub.
“I worry about all those elderly people who are not strong or fit enough to get out. It would have been difficult for them to leave the building, especially on the upper floors.’
He believed there were two fires, and the first was quickly extinguished, but the second took hold of the building.
When Chris first woke up to hear the fire alarm, he said he went out into the hallway but didn’t notice anything wrong.
A resident of Loafers Lodge Hostel, Chris, who has lived on the third floor since November, said the stairwell was covered in “thick, black smoke”
“But then it was the neighbor [shouting] ”firework! fire!” and the whole hallway was filled with smoke,” he told the NZ announces.
He quickly grabbed his phone and fled the burning building.
“I thought ‘what else do I need to get’ at the time,” but then I thought, “ah, f**k this I’m out of here,” he said.
The fire, which broke out at 12:30pm Tuesday at the Loafers Lodge Hostel in the central suburb of Newtown, is believed to have been deliberately set.
It was evicted around 6 a.m. local time.
Emergency services rescued 52 people from the inferno, five of whom had to be rescued from the roof by helicopter.
At least five people were rushed to hospital, one in critical condition and four in stable condition. Fifteen others were treated at the scene.
At least 20 fire engines were on the scene at 4am local time, with up to 90 firefighters battling what Wellington Fire and Emergency District Manager Pyatt has declared a ‘once-in-a-decade fire’.
At 11 a.m. Wellington time (9 a.m. AEST), firefighters said everyone still alive had been rescued from the building.
Authorities expect the death toll to rise as many are still missing