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Australia: Fire authority tackles polluted water after massive explosion in factory

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Australia: Fire authority tackles polluted water after massive explosion in factory

Sydney, July 11 (IANS) Fire authority in the Australian state of Victoria is tackling polluted water after a massive chemical explosion triggered a “seventh alarm” blaze in Melbourne’s west.

“We are currently managing runoff of contaminated water as a result of the firefighting effort and contaminants in the building,” Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) Deputy Commissioner Joshua Fischer said in a statement released on Thursday.

Fischer noted that a number of chemicals and dangerous goods were consumed in the fire while the exact quantity is yet to be known, Xinhua news agency reported.

At around 11.20 a.m. local time on Wednesday, emergency services rushed to Swann Drive in Derrimut in response to a significant factory fire sparked by a chemical explosion.

Shortly afterwards, a “Watch and Act” alert was issued for neighbouring regions, including Albion, Braybrook, Brooklyn, Derrimut, Laverton North, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Tottenham and Truganina.

Residents were urged to take shelter indoors immediately, as the wind was blowing “toxic smoke towards the East across Derrimut.”

At around 3.32 p.m. local time, the flame was deemed “under control” with the efforts of more than 180 firefighters and various specialist equipment, such as aerial appliances.

On Thursday morning, Fischer updated that nearby businesses would be allowed to return on a case-by-case basis thanks to successful firefighting endeavours.

“In excess of 3 million litres of water, 40,000 litres of foam has been used to suppress this fire,” said the deputy commissioner.

“We have got three appliances currently undertaking firefighting operations to continue to suppress the fire, and we still have a further 11 appliances on scene supporting and in time going through a decontamination process,” he noted.

The “Watch and Act” warning has now been downgraded to the “Advice” level, as no threat remains to the local community, but people should continue to stay informed and monitor conditions.

“It is going to take some time to ascertain the exact cause, and we also need to gain access to the scene, which is an active fire area with lots of contaminants and structural integrity issues of the remaining building,” said Fischer.

“This is a challenging and dynamic environment. For FRV, this is our first seventh alarm, which is a significant incident,” he added.

There have been no reported major injuries. FRV, Victoria Police, and WorkSafe Victoria are leading a joint probe into the explosion and subsequent fire.

 

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