Chemical explosion closes businesses
5 mins read

Chemical explosion closes businesses

Businesses operating near the scene of a massive factory fire in Melbourne’s west will not be able to return to their plants due to fears they will be exposed to sewage and toxic smoke.

Fire and Rescue Victoria (FRV) has confirmed that 180 firefighters and 66 vehicles responded to the Derrimut fire following a “large chemical explosion” on Swann Street at about 11.20am on Wednesday morning.

The fire, which was caused by kerosene, fuel, mentholated spirits, paint thinner and ethanol, has now been brought under control.

Firefighters are expected to remain at the scene for several days to extinguish any smoldering embers.

In a statement Wednesday evening, FRV said businesses in the Swann Circuit and Bliss Court areas would remain closed and further advice would be provided on Thursday morning.

The incident occurred after firewater entered Cherry Creek, Anderson’s Swamp and Kayes Drain, and residents and their pets were advised to avoid contact with the water.

Fire Rescue Victoria deputy fire commissioner Michelle Cowling said embers, liquid fuel and the scale of the fire and warehouse posed challenges for crews as they struggled to contain the “aggressive fire attack”.

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Crews are expected to work for several days to contain the blaze. Photo: NewsWire/Andrew Henshaw

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Nearly 200 firefighters responded to the blaze. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

“We estimate we will be here for a few days due to the fuel load at this plant,” she said.

“We can’t get close enough to cool this fire. It’ll have to be dismantled.”

Ms Crowling said there were 44-gallon drums on the factory site containing various types of fuel that exploded, shot into the air and landed out of range of the fire.

Ms Crowling said it was the first fire to reach alert level seven since the agency was set up four years ago.

She confirmed the fire was now under control and an investigation would be carried out by Victoria Police Fire Investigation, Fire Rescue Victoria and WorkSafe.

Firefighters managed to contain the fire in one plant, while neighbouring factories were not affected by the fire.

The factory is known to function both as a fuel storage facility and as a place for mixing various chemicals on site.

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The wild scenes unfolded at 11.20am on Wednesday. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

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Flames and heavy smoke from the Derrimut factory fire. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

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Crews arrived at the scene on Swann Drive at 11.20am. Specialist equipment is in place, including overhead equipment. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

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Multiple crews were dispatched to Derrimut in Melbourne’s inner west after a factory fire caused by a chemical explosion. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

A factory fire broke out in Derrimut. Photo: SuppliedA factory fire broke out in Derrimut. Photo: Supplied

A major alert has been issued for the surrounding suburbs. Photo: Supplied / FRV

Crews will carry out a “significant amount of work” to ensure wastewater from the factory does not enter waterways, Ms Crowley said.

FRV requested an evacuation along Swann Drive to Bliss Court due to reports of hazardous materials and unknown toxins burning there.

Watch and Act orders were also issued for Albion, Braybrook, Brooklyn, Derrimut, Laverton North, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Tottehnham and Truganina.

FRV advised people in the smoke-affected area to immediately take shelter indoors.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from planes flying nearby. Photo: XPlumes of smoke could be seen from planes flying nearby. Photo: X

Plumes of smoke could be seen from planes flying nearby. Photo: X

The smoke is reportedly heading towards the CBD. Photo: XThe smoke is reportedly heading towards the CBD. Photo: X

The smoke is reportedly heading towards the CBD. Photo: X

Thick, black smoke billows into the sky as firefighters try to put out the blaze.

Smoke is reportedly starting to spread towards Melbourne’s central business district as wind changes push the smoke south.

A community warning has been issued for Albion, Braybrook, Brooklyn, Derrimut, Laverton North, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Tottenham and Truganina.

An FRV spokesman said additional vehicles had been dispatched to the scene and firefighters were working to extinguish the fire.

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Black smoke rises into the sky. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

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Two men watch the chaos unfold. Photo: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

A Victoria Police spokesman said there were no reports of any injuries at the time.

“It is believed that everyone in the building was safely evacuated.

“Traffic is expected to be disrupted in the area for some time as Swann Drive will be closed and westbound traffic on the Deer Park Bypass will be at a standstill for safety reasons.”

All lanes of the Western Freeway remain closed in both directions between M80 Ring Rd and Ballarat Rd.

The main highway is expected to remain closed throughout the afternoon rush hour.

The Department of Transportation advises drivers to keep their windows closed when driving through the area.

Ambulance Victoria said crews arrived at the scene at about 11.15am.

“Health monitoring services are currently at the scene, at this stage no one has been transported to hospital,” the spokesman said.

Officers from the Victoria State Environmental Protection Authority are at the scene.

The fire occurred less than a year after a man died in a factory fire on the same street.

The body of a 44-year-old man from Hoppers Crossing was found inside a building following a chemical explosion in October.