‘Stay away’: Warning over toxic explosion

HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Flames and thick smoke from a factory fire in Derrimut. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Residents have been warned to avoid the area of a massive factory explosion as remnants of the toxic blaze will linger for days.

There were 180 firefighters and 66 appliances called to the factory in Derrimut in Melbourne’s west after a “large chemical explosion” about 11.20am on Wednesday.

It is understood the factory is both a storage facility for fuel and responsible for mixing a number of various chemicals on site.

Kerosene, fuel, mentholated spirits, paint thinners and ethanol were believed to be part of the toxic cocktail which exploded.

Fire crews spent the day battling the blaze, by Thursday morning they had managed to get it under control.

HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
The steel has been melted due to the large blaze. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Locals have been told to avoid the area. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

However, locals are still being warned to avoid the area for several days.

“If you don’t have to come in here, I’d suggest stay away,” Fire Rescue Victoria North West deputy commissioner Michelle Cowling said.

Residents are also being told to avoid contact with the water as firewater has entered Cherry Creek, Anderson’s Swamp and Kayes Drain.

“We estimate we’re going to be here a couple of days because of the fuel load in this factory,” she said.

“We can’t get in close enough to cool this fire down. It will have to be pulled apart.”

AMA president and GP doctor, Tony Bartone, told the Today show people with respiratory conditions were most at risk.

He warned that smoke and toxins may cause headaches, nauseousness or dizziness to people in the immediate area.

HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Residents have been warned to avoid the area. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Fire crews mop up after battling a huge factory fire in Derrimut. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Ms Crowling said there were 44 gallon drums containing multiple types of fuel within the factory, which exploded, launching into the air and landing outside the fire perimeter.

She said the fire was the first to have reached a seventh alarm level since the agency was first created four years ago.

HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Fire crews battle a huge factory fire in Derrimut. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
HUGE CHEMICAL EXPLOSION
Flames and thick smoke from a factory fire in Derrimut. Picture: NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

She confirmed the blaze has now been brought under control and an investigation into the fire will be conducted by Victoria Police Fire Investigation, Fire Rescue Victoria and WorkSafe.

Crews were able to contain the fire to the one facility and neighbouring factories have not been impacted by the blaze.

A “significant amount of work” will be conducted by crews to ensure run-off from the factory does not enter waterways, Ms Crowley said.

Victoria Police, FRV, the EPA and Worksafe Victoria will all be part of the investigation in the coming days.

The blaze comes less than a year after a man was killed in a factory fire at the same location.