Warning as wall moves after Sydney fire
Authorities have issued a warning after an external wall on the Surry Hills building moved 70mm overnight, prompting them to establish an exclusion zone for at least another week.
Specialist teams are continuing to monitor the buildings after the heritage listed building caught ablaze in Sydney’s biggest fire in more than 50 years.
Unstable walls are being monitored with laser measuring tools and drones, Fire and Rescue NSW said in a statement.
“One external wall has moved 70mm over night reinforcing the commitment to maintain the current exclusions zones for community safety,” the statement reads.
“Light smouldering from deep within the rubble continues.”
Firefighters remain on the scene, but it is not safe for them to enter the building to extinguish the small fires.
An exclusion zone, including Randle street and surrounding areas such as two apartment blocks has been set up.
An Emergency Operations Centre has been stood up to coordinate safe demolition of the damaged buildings.
The NSW Police Arson Squad is continuing to investigate circumstances surrounding the fire.
Southbound lanes on Elizabeth Street reopened on Friday night.
Footage inside the aftermath of the fire has revealed the intensity of the inferno.
Fire and Rescue NSW has released drone footage taken from above two destroyed buildings, revealing melted interiors and piles of rubble within the partially collapsed walls of the structure.
Whole floors have caved in to leave a cavity inside the empty shell of a building, while exploded windows and piles of brick were left behind.
Two 13-year-olds handed themselves into separate police stations in Sydney on Thursday night and are now assisting police with their inquiries.
NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Paul Dunstan said officers are aware of “three or four” other young people who were present at the building, and asked them to come forward with their parents to “put their side of the story”.
There are no known injuries to the young people believed to have been involved in the fire.
He also confirmed up to 15 people were sleeping inside the former apartment building the night before, but believed they were all accounted for.
No charges have been laid over the fire, with the arson squad continuing to investigate.
This comes as the owner of a local business claims he saw children running from the site shortly after the fire began.
Phu Tang, a locksmith who works next to the razed building told reporters he saw a group of students running from the site as it went up in flames on Thursday afternoon.
He claimed he saw the group yelling out to their friend, who was on the first floor, to get out before they fled.
“Those kids were running hastily on the corner of Randle Lane and Randle Street, looking up and talking to one of the children who was still stuck in that building, asking ‘why is that kid still up there’,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“They were screaming and swearing at each other and calling for that child.”
A NSW Fire and Rescue spokesman told NCA NewsWire it would be a “tragedy” if anyone had been inside the building at the time.
“We will investigate anyone who is unaccounted for, but we still can’t enter the structure because it’s unsafe to do so,” he said.
“If there was someone inside there, that would be a tragedy. It would be an absolute miracle if they survived.”
The news comes as fears grow that the walls the building, on Randle Street in Surry Hills, may collapse onto the street.
More than 100 firefighters worked to contain the fire, graded as the most severe category of fire, as it sent smoke churning into the sky and crumbled the brick facade.
Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry said there was now a “major concern” the walls could crumble at any moment.
“There is a high chance these could fall in, collapse without notice, bringing tonnes of bricks down, those bricks becoming projectiles,” he told Sunrise on Friday morning.
Shocking footage taken on Thursday afternoon shows the moment part of the brick walls peeled off the building, sending a cloud of flames upward and bricks plunging to the street.
“That's why we have such a tight exclusion zone for everyone, including firefighters in and around this area,” Superintendent Dewberry said.
“Those walls are too unsafe because if a brick hits you it will be severe injury or death. So that's our main priority, safety first.”
The blaze was finally extinguished in the early hours of Friday morning, after a mammoth effort from emergency services, which saw busy Elizabeth Street flooded with water on Thursday night.
Superintendent Dewberry praised the firefighters’ heroic efforts in containing the blaze before 9pm, an incredible feat considering the very high risk that the fire could have spread to not only adjoining buildings, but leap across the street.
“I don't think people realise how under-threat the building across the road was and how firefighters stopped that fire from spreading,” he said.
Firefighters also helped to remove essential items from adjoining apartment buildings including medication and even a wedding dress for a bride that was due to be married on Friday.