At least one person has been taken to hospital after a fire – possibly caused by a forklift explosion – ripped through several factories in Melbourne’s north on Tuesday.
Huge plumes of black smoke blanketed the surrounding area after the fire broke out at a car wreckers on Settlement Road site in Thomastown about 1.30pm.
A witness said several factories were engulfed in the flames.
Fire Rescue Victoria firefighters were on the scene in about six minutes before 16 appliances arrived, including an aerial teleboom and ladder platform. More than 100 firefighters battled the fierce blaze.
Assistant chief fire officer Darren Conlin said the fire was fuelled by a “load of rubber tyres and really old disbanded cars”.
“When you get enough heat to ignite the rubber, well it runs hard and ignites quickly and that’s what we were faced with early,” he told the ABC.
“When the smoke was about 100 to 120-feet high (30-36 metres), well the flames within that smoke were at least that high, so we were settling in for a long fire fight.”
Black smoke could be seen from nearby roads in Thomastown and the surrounding suburbs, as fire crews worked to contain the blaze and bring it under control.
FRV said the cause of the blaze was not clear, but there were reports it might have been sparked by a forklift explosion. It said it expected to be battling the fire for some time.
“A number of occupants were inside the building at the time of the fire,” it said in a statement.
“However, they managed to evacuate before emergency services arrived on scene.
“Occupants are being assessed and one person has been transferred into the care of Ambulance Victoria paramedics.”
VicEmergency issued an alert stating there was no threat to the community, but people should monitor the conditions.
Residents who are sensitive to smoke were told to close windows and doors, and turn off heating or cooling systems. Other people were advised to avoid the area.