9 Jul 2015

Electrical fault caused St James blaze

1:35 pm on 9 July 2015

A trustee of the historic St James Theatre says an electrical fault is to blame for the fire there overnight.

Assessors are being brought in to gauge the extent of fire damage, which the trustee, Steve Bielby, said was significant, but quite isolated.

More than a dozen fire engines, including specialist appliances, went to the fire, which began at about 10.30pm yesterday.

Large fire crew battling fire at historic St James theatre in Auckland last night

A large crew battling a fire at the historic St James Theatre in Auckland last night. Photo: RNZ

No-one was in the building at the time.

At the height of the fire, smoke could be seen coming from the building's roof and a large turntable ladder was used to douse the theatre from above.

The St James, which is a category 1 historic building, had only just reopened after eight years, having closed when another fire damaged it in 2007.

Fire service assistant area commander Barry Fox said crews managed to contain the fire to the basement, where it began.

There was also some damage to the foyer where crews had to break windows to get inside, he said.

Fire crews were at the scene overnight and investigators would look into the cause today, Mr Fox said.

He could not say whether the fire was suspicious.

St James fire

Photo: RNZ/ Kate Newton