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Flooring factory fire update
Two weeks after the Dandenong South factory fire and on the day of the incident debrief – October 3 – Dandenong brigade was called back to attend another flare up likely caused by this week’s strong winds.
The fire was initially called in on Thursday 19 September. It was three minutes before day shift ceased duty but the change of shift had already taken place.
The site contained carpet, vinyl flooring, underlay, timber, adhesives and tools and sent a plume of smoke over Dandenong, Dandenong South, Hallam and Hampton Park and prompted a warning for residents with breathing difficulties to stay indoors.
Senior Station Officer Rick Owen was the initial Incident Controller.
“We didn’t see the smoke for the first kilometre,” said Rick, “but then Vicfire started getting multiple calls and they told us that everyone was out of the building.
“The final tally of appliances on scene was 15 pumpers, two hose layers, two BA vans, one MCV [mobile communications vehicle] and five aerials – two telebooms and three ladder platforms.
“It was a clear span building approximately 50 metres in width. We were looking at the intensity of the fire and the exposures. There was another factory on the eastern sector with even more fuel inside so that was the first concern.
“We really needed the height and projection of the aerials. Initially we had the wind in our favour so we got one aerial close. The operators and appliance were exposed when the wind turned so we re-positioned. It was a judgement call but that initial inundation stopped the spread of the fire from one building to another.”
In fact, at the height of the fire, 21,000 litres of water a minute was being delivered on the fire with the nearby Frankston-Dandenong Road 450 millimetre main proving invaluable.
“It was an external, defensive firefight,” continued Rick. “About 20 minutes in, a red flag warning was issued to indicate structural collapse as the concrete tilt slabs collapsed out.”
Senior Station Officer Glenn Proebstl was the Fire Investigation Team Leader with support from Leading Firefighter Matthew Ivan and State Fire Investigation Coordinator Nicole Harvey.
“The Fire Investigation Unit’s first attendance was the day after the fire started for preliminary intelligence gathering,” said Glenn. “We were able to use some heavy machinery – a 22.5 tonne and a 30 tonne excavator – provided by the insurance company to make the site safe and give us access to the area of origin.
“The fire burned through Friday, Saturday and Sunday and part of the work done by the weekend crew was ensuring that the site would be safe for the carriage of the formal fire investigation on the Monday. Matt [Ivan] was there all day Saturday keeping the continuity of the scene while make-safe works were carried out.
“On Monday we were able to interview the employees who were in the factory when the fire started. They were able to give us detailed information about the circumstances of the fire.”
Working closely with forensics scientists from the Victorian Forensics Science Centre at Macleod, the cause and origin of the fire was established early on Monday afternoon. The point of origin was found to be carpet and underlay rolls stored in stillages adjacent to the racking in the warehouse. It appears that an industrial light fitting above the stillages failed and showered hot material on the carpets and underlay which then ignited.
Read the original story here.
See a video here.