Factory catches fire in Perth's eastern suburbs as fire fighters battle multiple blazes, Australia
Toxic smoke from burning plastic filled the sky in Perth's east after a fire engulfed a packaging factory on Thursday, 6 June 2019. The fire is understood to have started in pallets of plastic cups along the fence line of the property and then spread into the manufacturing workshop, which bore the brunt of the damage. Fire fighters have been able to save a nearby warehouse. Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) North East Operations region Superintendent Gary Baxter said when crews arrived on the scene, multiple piles of plastic were on fire. "Polyethylene is highly combustible and as you can see from the plume of smoke behind us, it's highly toxic," Superintendent Baxter said. "It's always a concern when we have toxic smoke of that colour and that constitution. It should burn for quite some time if we don't get on top of it so we want to reduce the smoke emissions as much as we can."
He said businesses in the area had been evacuated and warned residents air conditioners should be switched off. Smoke and fumes that may be dangerous were being blown in a south-east direction. The DFES has warned people in the area to remain inside and keep doors and windows closed to avoid the smoke and fumes. Dozens of fire fighters have been at the scene.
The ChemCentre and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation are testing the toxicity of the atmosphere.
Vision from the scene showed the fire spreading to one of the main buildings, with at least part of the structure collapsing due to the damage. A plume of thick black smoke could be seen extending high into the sky above the blaze.
Superintendent Baxter said wind conditions were causing problems. "Wind of this calibre on a day like today [Thursday] with a toxic fire like this is not favourable," he said.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said the cause of the blaze was still unknown. "There will be a full fire investigation involvement … to determine what the cause was, but that won't occur until after we've actually extinguished it and made it safe for people to gain access," he said.
The fire is burning less than two kilometres south of Perth Airport but the airport said there had been no impact on flights so far.
It is the fourth major fire in the state on Thursday, with an emergency warning issued as authorities tackled a bushfire in Perth's southern suburb of Baldivis. The Baldivis fire caused major disruption on the Kwinana Freeway. Separate emergency warnings were also issued for a blaze burning near the town of Jarrahwood, south-east of Busselton and in the Vasse Plantation, east of Cowaramup in the South West region.
All emergency warnings across the state have now been downgraded.