A Friday fire at Antonio Hall in Christchurch is being treated as 'suspicious' say Police.
They believe it to be a deliberately lit fire and are are speaking to a number of witnesses and following a strong line of inquiry into how the fire started.
Fire and Emergency was called to Antonio Hall about 5.20pm last night and over 50 firefighters were involved in putting out the blaze.
Fifty houses were evacuated on Wharenui Road as a precautionary measure, but residents were able to return home later in the evening around 8.30pm.
A small crew remained at Antonio Hall overnight to monitor the building and will return to the scene this morning to continue the investigation.
The investigation is set to take some time due to the size of the building and the unsafe nature of some parts of the structure.
Fire crews managed to save the chapel from the fire and all road closures have been lifted in the area.
Police are calling on the public for more information from those who may have seen suspicious activity near Antonio Hall yesterday prior to the fire.
If you can help, please call Christchurch Police on 105.