The asbestos threat is real Melbournes west engulfed in black toxic smoke

first_imgOver the years I have tried to kick my habit of waking up and instantly reaching for my phone, but on Thursday morning I was thankful I had yet to succeed.My social media feed prepared me for the large, dark black plume of smoke I would be confronted with at the end of my street on my morning walk.Residents of Melbourne’s inner western suburbs had awoken to the sounds of crackling, which they would soon come to discover was the sound of a warehouse containing asbestos burning in a raging fire that had broken out at 5.00 am in West Footscray.Chaos ensued online with my fellow Westies posting to find out what was happening; Was it safe to send their children to school? To walk down the street? To leave their pets outside? To have their heating on?Despite Melbourne’s west being a highly industrial area, over the past decade people have awoken to its close proximity to the CBD, resulting in house prices sky rocketing and more people calling it home. Having lived in the vicinity myself over 28 years, when people turned up their noses with toxic waste jokes, it hadn’t phased me one bit – until now. Being surrounded by factories and warehouses, the contents unknown and largely unregulated, had resulted in Emergency Victoria issuing warnings on Thursday for residents to close all doors and windows, keep heating off, ensure pets were kept indoors, and shockingly, “if you are away from home do not return”.Living seven kilometres north of the fire, I was concerned, but went about my day as usual, all the while monitoring updates. Things took a turn, however, when, at midday, the warning in place for 11 suburbs grew to include an additional eight, mine included. Leaving work early to heed the emergency service’s advice, I realised the full scale of the fire. As my train reached West Footscray station, a large black cloud of smoke billowed at what was a much closer proximity than I had anticipated, especially nine hours after the fire had broken out.Somerville and Paramount Roads were closed until further notice, businesses sent workers home closing their doors for the day, and 50 schools and childcare centres remained closed for the day, parents advised to keep their children home, the warnings particularly heightened for those with respiratory problems.Over 140 firefighters had attended to the blaze by Friday morning, taking over 17 hours to finally get the fire under control, which is expected to continue burning for up to four days according to Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp.While the exact cause is yet to be confirmed, it is believed recycled canisters of flammable paint and aerosols caused the fire and the ongoing explosions, which resulted in an inferno that was reportedly half the size of the MCG. Meanwhile the presence of asbestos and highly flammable acetone, commonly found in nail polish remover, and oxy-acetylene have sparked health fears as toxic fumes continue to impact the area, with local waterways impacted by water run-off due to chemicals and firefighting foam residue, with the public advised to stay clear and to keep their pets on a lead.But what’s most concerning as a local resident, is the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) stating that the air quality in the area on Friday was no worse than normal. Makes you wonder.To stay up-to-date, visit note anyone in the area experiencing wheezing, chest tightness or difficulty breathing should call 000. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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