In the wake of a serious apartment fire in central Melbourne on Monday morning Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has admitted it is a “slow process” removing flammable cladding from buildings.
The state government set up an auditing system to identify and remove flammable cladding after the Docklands Lacrosse apartment tower fire in 2014, but Mr Andrews admitted it was taking some time to implement.
“These are issues we take very seriously. We’ve implemented a range of reforms. We know there’s more to be done here, there’s no question about that,” Mr Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne.
More than 100 residents of a Spencer Street apartment building were evacuated as flames engulfed at least four floors.
At least 65 firefighters battled the Spencer Street fire – which was thought to have started shortly before 5am on the 22nd floor.
The blaze quickly spread externally up the building to the 27th floor, and incident was quickly upgraded after the block was noted to have combustible cladding.
“My understanding is that the building is cladded with ACM [Aluminium Composition Material ],” Metropolitan Fire Brigade chief Dan Stephens said.
Mr Stephens said the ACM was the same kind of cladding used on London’s Grenfell Tower, which was engulfed in flames in 2017, killing 72 people.
Just by Spencer street station .. I honestly hope whoever is in there gets out okay!! #melbourne #fire — you feel so helpless looking on but the fire engines are on their way. pic.twitter.com/jYGYqSc0Wb
— ʙᴇᴋᴀʜ ᴊᴀʏɴᴇ (@bekahjaynex) February 3, 2019
Paramedics treated a man for smoke inhalation and one resident said it was “pretty scary”.
“The alarm just went off. I thought it is within our apartment but then I opened up the alleyway and it was the whole building. I just immediately took my cat with me. It was pretty scary. I was very panicked,” she told the Nine Network.
The fire was deemed under control just before 7am and crews will remain on scene for some time, an MFB spokeswoman said.
The cause is yet to be established.