Melbourne Apartment Fire: Cladding The Same As Grenfell Tower
A high-rise Melbourne apartment building has been evacuated over fears an early-morning fire could have triggered an inferno fuelled by the same combustible cladding on London's Grenfell Tower.
MFB assistant chief fire officer Trent Curtain says firefighters quickly escalated their response to the emergency when they arrived before 5am and saw flames outside the 40-storey tower.
Crews entered the property and identified fire running from the 22nd to the 25th floor, he told 3AW.
Curtain said flames leapt up the side of the building on a number of floors and the evacuation got underway very quickly.
Chief officer Dan Stephens told reporters the cladding is believed to be the same as that on the Grenfell Tower which was destroyed by a devastating fire in June 2017 that killed 72 people.
"My understanding is that the building is cladded with ACM, aluminium composite material, so the sort of cladding that was on the Grenfell Tower," he said.
"There is evidence of external fire spread.
"Our fire investigation team will have to determine the reason for that fire spread."
A relief centre has been set up at the Melbourne town hall and shuttle buses are ferrying evacuees there.
The state government set up an auditing system to identify and remove flammable cladding after the Docklands Lacrosse apartment tower fire in 2014, but Premier Daniel Andrews admitted it was a slow process.
"These are issues we take very seriously, we've implemented a range of reforms. We know there's more to be done here, there's no question about that," Andrews told ABC Radio Melbourne.
More needed to be done about fire responses, inspections and improving the building code framework so new buildings did not have the wrong cladding installed or misuse safe cladding that would cause a fire risk, Andrews said.
More than 65 firefighters took on the blaze and paramedics treated a man for smoke inhalation.
The last tweet on the building's Twitter account @Neo200SpencerSt in June 2017 said it complied with building standards. "While most of the building is not clad at all, where any cladding is used it is compliant with VBA standards," it said.
Spencer Street is blocked in both directions with people being urged to stay clear of the area.
The fire was deemed under control just before 7am and crews will remain on scene for some time, an MFB spokeswoman said.
The cause is yet to be established.