2018 West Footscray warehouse fire

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Template:Use Australian English The 2018 West Footscray warehouse fire was a major industrial fire that occurred in West Footscray, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, beginning on 30 August 2018. The fire took the Metropolitan Fire Brigade several days to fully control and emitted a large plume of toxic black smoke, visible across Melbourne.

Background

The warehouse where the fire occurred is owned by Danbol Pty Ltd; the sole director and shareholder of which is Christopher James Baldwin, an accountant based in Shepparton.[1]

Fire

Emergency services were first called to the factory in Somerville Road, West Footscray around 5am on 30 August 2018, arriving six minutes after the first call. The 100m x 200m warehouse was fully alight. 80 firefighters and 20 fire-fighting appliances initially responded, with the number of firefighters eventually rising to more than 140.[2][3] Firefighters' ability to reach the centre of the fire was hampered by walls of shipping containers and 44 gallon drums stacked up within the warehouse.[3][4] A week after the fire started, hotspots remained.[4]

Investigations

Initial investigations in the aftermath of the fire indicated the cause was suspicious. Detectives from the Victoria Police Arson and Explosive Squad assumed responsibility for the investigation into the exact cause of the fire.[5]

WorkSafe Victoria announced after the fire that the warehouse was not registered to store dangerous chemicals.[4] As a result of community concern, Worksafe inspected other industrial properties within the area, and "found dozens ... that also failed to comply with the [Dangerous Goods] act".[4] The Environment Protection Authority also investigated links between the owner of the site, the lessee, and other properties in the north of Melbourne, where industrial chemicals were found to be stored illegally.[1]

At the request of the firefighters' union and Metropolitan Fire Brigade, a coronial investigation was opened into the incident.[6]

Health effects

In the hours after the fire began, authorities issued a "community advice warning" for Brooklyn, Kingsville, Tottenham, West Footscray, Altona North, Braybrook, Footscray, South Kingsville, Spotswood, Sunshine, and Yarraville, with residents being warned to close windows and doors. Residents were still reporting health issues three weeks after the fire.[7] Firefighters were also concerned about the longterm effects of exposure to toxic chemicals.[6]

Environmental effects

Within hours of the fire, dead fish, eels, birds and other wildlife were washing up dead on the banks of Stony Creek.[8] The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) warned people not to eat fish from Stony Creek or the lower Yarra River, and not to enter, put their hands into or allow dogs into the creek.[7] As of March 2019, the EPA continues to monitor the water and sediment of Stony Creek for pollutants including phenol, BTEX, PFAS, acetone and butanone.[9]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ilanbey, Sumeyya; Vedelago, Chris; Cooper, Adam (2 January 2019). "New toxic factories and West Footscray factory fire link to same man". The Age. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/new-toxic-factories-and-west-footscray-factory-fire-link-to-same-man-20190102-p50paj.html. Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  2. "Factory fire in West Footscray". Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board. 30 August 2018. http://www.mfb.vic.gov.au/News/Factory-fire-in-West-Footscray.html. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kerr, Jack (2018-12-06). "Photographs raise more questions about Melbourne warehouse fire mystery" (in en-AU). https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-06/west-footscray-inferno-warehouse-empty-photos-show/10306174. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Kerr, Jack; Oaten, James (7 September 2018). "West Footscray fire warehouse was not registered for chemical storage: WorkSafe". ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-07/west-footscray-factory-fire-not-registered-chemical-storage/10201234. Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  5. Hinchliffe, Joe; Precel, Nicole; Colangelo, Anthony (1 September 2018). "Arson police investigate cause of West Footscray factory fire". The Age (Melbourne). https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/police-investigate-cause-of-west-footscray-factory-fire-20180901-p5016s.html. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vedelago, Chris; Houston, Cameron; Hinchliffe, Joe (2 December 2018). "Concerns toxic blaze lit to conceal chemical stores". The Age. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/concerns-toxic-blaze-lit-to-conceal-chemical-stores-20181201-p50jm1.html. Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Smith, Rohan (20 September 2018). "Residents still struggling three weeks after West Footscray factory fire". News.com.au. https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/residents-still-struggling-three-weeks-after-west-footscray-factory-fire/news-story/3be92223f7f5df87e7d523207ddae1fb. Retrieved 8 April 2019. 
  8. Fox Koob, Simone; Cunningham, Melissa; Emery, Sarah; Preiss, Benjamin; Towell, Noel (31 August 2018). "Scores of dead fish, eels wash up after Melbourne factory fire". The Age (Melbourne). https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/scores-of-dead-fish-eels-wash-up-after-melbourne-factory-fire-20180831-p500z5.html. 
  9. "Waterways around the West Footscray industrial fire". 27 March 2019. https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/current-issues/industrial-fire-in-west-footscray. Retrieved 8 April 2019. 

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