Parnell City Garden Lodge fire: 34-year-old woman charged with arson

A 34-year-old woman has been charged with arson in connection with a fire that engulfed an Auckland hostel.

Up to 16 fire engines were rushed to battle the fire at the City Garden Lodge Backpackers in Parnell on Sunday 7 April.

Detective Sergeant Chris Allan said the woman was arrested yesterday afternoon and is expected to appear in Auckland District Court today.

“Police would like to thank the public who assisted with our investigations and contributed to this outcome,” Allan said.

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Firefighters tackle the fire at City Garden Lodge in Parnell.  Photo / Frank Mair
Firefighters tackle the fire at City Garden Lodge in Parnell. Photo / Frank Mair

“As the matter is now before the court, the police will not be making any further comment.”

The large fire reportedly sparked flames 6 meters high, while smoke rose throughout the city.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand deputy commander Gary Lane said at the time the fire engulfed the attic of the historic building and spread to the first floor.

A resident of St Georges Bay Rd told the Herald At the time, the size of the fire and the number of firefighters who responded to the scene made it seem like “absolute chaos here.”

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“There is thick smoke all over the street… we went out but they told us to go back in because we couldn’t breathe,” they said.

The resident also said he saw people fighting outside the address while it was on fire.

Police said at the time there had been a report of a disorderly incident at the shelter and said one person was detained. The person was later released without charge.

Another witness said they were walking down the street and saw “huge amounts of fire” coming through the house.

“There was a lot of smoke and the fire kept getting bigger and bigger.”

There are now fears for the future and safety of the historic pension.

He Herald reported at the time that Auckland Council building compliance workers had visited the site to see if the building could be lived in again.

Auckland Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson said the Parnell Building’s fitness assurance was due to be checked the day after the fire started, but it had passed checks in August and November last year.

The shelter has been in the news before: a woman was arrested after an alleged attack on New Year’s Day 2021.

In that incident, three people were seen covered in blood and screaming at each other in the boarding house after they allegedly stabbed a man who was living above a couple with a baby.

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Another young man, in his 20s, was taken to hospital due to a stab wound to the back.

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