New Zealand WWC team safe after hotel fire


AUCKLAND, New Zealand — The New Zealand national women’s soccer team is safe and accounted for after they had to be temporarily evacuated from their hotel Saturday night due to a fire.

New Zealand Football said in a statement it “can confirm that the Football Ferns team and staff have been temporarily evacuated from the Pullman Hotel, their team base for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, due to a fire.

“All of the team and staff are safe and accounted for.”

New Zealand Police said that a 34-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the fire.

“A man has been arrested following a suspicious fire at a premises on Waterloo Quad, Auckland Central last night,” police said. “The 34-year-old has been charged with burglary and arson and is due to appear in Auckland District Court on Monday.”

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesperson confirmed to ESPN that at around 8 p.m. on Saturday, emergency crews, including eight trucks, were called to the Pullman Hotel due to a fire alarm being triggered, forcing guests to be evacuated. The fire has been extinguished, and control of the hotel has been returned to the hotel staff.

– Women’s World Cup: Home | Squads | Fixtures | Podcast

New Zealand defender CJ Bott said some players encountered smoke while evacuating. But the players made it out safely and spent a few hours at a nearby restaurant.

“Yeah, one of the fire exits was a bit smoky but the majority of us got down the other safe exit and we exited the building perfectly fine,” said Bott.

A spokesperson for the Hato Hone St. John ambulance service confirmed to ESPN that two ambulances were sent to the scene and four people were treated for smoke inhalation, but didn’t require transportation to a hospital as they were in “moderate condition.”

“We had really good security on board that gave us really good instruction and we all kind of dealt with it pretty well,” forward Gabi Rennie said on Sunday. “I think our team is pretty good with dealing with adversity. So it’s just another kind of test.”

Eight teams are currently staying in Auckland during the tournament: New Zealand, USA, Vietnam, Argentina, Norway, Philippines, Portugal and Italy.

It was the second security incident within three days at the World Cup, following a fatal shooting near team hotels on the first morning of the tournament.

A moment of silence for the victims was held before New Zealand defeated Norway 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament on Thursday.

The New Zealand team continues group play at the tournament on Tuesday with a match against the Philippines in Wellington.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.



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