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Alert for vigilance and action issued after chemical explosion causes factory fire

Alert for vigilance and action issued after chemical explosion causes factory fire
Alert for vigilance and action issued after chemical explosion causes factory fire

The fire reached a seventh alert level. Fire Rescue Victoria has never had to deal with a fire higher than a fifth alert level since it was established four years ago.

WorkSafe was on scene on Wednesday and is still investigating the deadly fire at the chemical plant in October. Fire Rescue Victoria said Victoria Police would also be investigating the cause of Wednesday’s fire.

Firefighters work to contain a large fire at a commercial site in Derrimut. Victoria Police and emergency services responded to an explosion and subsequent fire on Swann Drive at around 11.20am. Large chemical factory fire in Derrimut. July 10, 2024, The Age News Photo by JOE ARMAOCredit: Joe Armao

Shortly after 1pm on Wednesday afternoon, a warning was issued to be alert and take action in Derrimut and the neighbouring suburbs of Albion, Braybrook, Brooklyn, Laverton North, Sunshine, Sunshine West, Tottenham and Truganina.

The warning zone was reduced to the Derrimut industrial estate shortly before 4pm. Suburbs south of the fire, such as Laverton, were reduced to an advisory at around the same time. Emergency warnings were lifted altogether for others to the north.

Residents near the fire were told to stay out of the smoke and keep windows and doors closed to avoid the toxic burning chemicals. They were also urged to close vents in their homes and make sure heating and cooling systems were turned off.

A wind shift has blown the toxic smoke towards Boundary Road and Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Anyone affected is urged to seek shelter indoors immediately.

A view of the toxic plume of smoke blowing east from Melbourne’s western suburbs.Credit: Nine news

Ambulance Victoria said emergency services arrived at around 11.15am but no one required treatment.

The surrounding industrial estate was evacuated by police along Swann Drive to Bliss Court. The Environment Protection Authority of Victoria was also on the scene.

A plume of black smoke was seen in Melbourne and a wall at the rear of the factory collapsed early on Wednesday afternoon, exploding tanks containing flammables and damaging a b-double truck.

Around midday, fireballs continued to erupt from the inferno along the Western Ring Road as crews tried to extinguish the flames. Around 1pm, spot fires appeared to be breaking out on the nature strip on the southern edge of the major highway, with vehicles travelling just metres away.

At around 2pm a special truck arrived and extinguished the flames with white foam.

News helicopter footage showed several vehicles parked on the side of the Western Freeway, close to the fire. Around 1pm, cars could still be seen entering westbound Deer Park Bypass traffic via a ramp from the Western Ring Road.

The Western Freeway was closed in both directions shortly before 1:30pm. The inbound closure was from Ballarat Road to the M80 Ring Road, while the outbound closure was from the M80 Ring Road to Robinsons Road.

People are being advised to avoid the industrial estate south of the Western Freeway. Motorists in areas with heavy smoke were asked to keep their windows closed and to set their car ventilation to recirculation.

An explosion at the Derrimut factory fire.Credit: Nine news

FRV Deputy Commissioner Cowling praised the efforts of emergency services on Wednesday evening.

β€œIt was a huge fire and the firefighters from Fire Rescue Victoria did a fantastic job. They relied on their training and professionalism to bring the fire under control in such a short time.”