Workers at a building site at Sydney’s Circular Quay have been evacuated, with more than a dozen people treated for smoke inhalation, after a fire took hold this morning, sending thick black smoke into the CBD.
Crews responded to the blaze at Gold Fields House about 8.45am after protective mesh surrounding scaffolding on the building caught alight.
“Fire crews … found a building that was under demolition in a work site that had a fire that was progressing from the lower levels and up the outside of the building,” Superintendent Andrew Ticehurst from Fire and Rescue NSW said.
“There were about two dozen workers on the site at the time of the fire. They were all able to be evacuated by themselves.”
It was not yet known how the fire started but there were several small explosions.
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“There were a number of gas cylinders, that not only exploded during the height of the blaze, but were also affected by the heat and fire crews had to pull those down to prevent any further explosions,” Superintendent Ticehurst said.
Nearby buildings were also evacuated, including the Marriott Hotel and 47-storey Gateway Tower, a woman staying in one of the hotels said.
The work site supervisor has reported all workers have been accounted for. It is believed some were on the upper levels of the building where the fire broke out.
Gold Fields House, which dates to 1966, was one of Sydney’s first high rise buildings.
The building is owned by companies associated with Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo, whose Sydney-based son Huang Jiquan, 24, purchased it last month.
The property sale was done through the newly formed private company, AWH Investment Group, in association with the private company of Huang Xiangmo, Yuhu Group Australia.
Shareholders will give final approval for the sale in March this year.
Yuhu Group Australia has been contacted for comment.
Fire and Rescue New South Wales said there were no reports of injuries.
Paramedics treated people for potential smoke inhalation but none needed to be taken to hospital, the NSW Ambulance Service said.
“We are currently assessing 13 of the workers who were in close proximity to the smoke for potential respiratory issues,” Ambulance Service Inspector Giles Buchanan said.
About 15 fire crews attended the fire and attacked it from the outside before heading inside to see if the flames spread internally.
Sydney Trains earlier said trains were no longer stopping at Circular Quay station, but they have since resumed.
Buses are no longer diverted but are delayed by up to 15 minutes, a statement from the Transport Management Centre said.