Toxic Smoke Continues To Billow Through Melbourne
Fire crews will work into the night to fully extinguish the blaze.
Fire crews are working to minimise toxic smoke plumes that continue to billow from a huge factory fire in Melbourne ahead of an afternoon weather change.
About 140 firefighters are battling the blaze at a facility on Somerville Road in West Footscray, with smoke stretching across the western suburbs.
"All smoke is toxic. If people are inside the plume, they shouldn't be there," Metropolitan Fire Brigade Acting Deputy Chief Ken Brown told reporters about midday.
"They should avoid it at all costs. They should stay indoors, close their windows, close their air conditioning. And if they can go somewhere else, that's even better."
The blaze started about 5am on Thursday, and fully involved the whole building.
"We have managed to contain the perimeter and we have a fire burning in the centre," Brown said.
"We are looking at a strategy to minimise the impact on the community over the next couple of hours."
A watch and act alert in place for suburbs including Footscray, West Footscray, Yarraville, Kingsville, South Kingsville and Sunshine due to smoke concerns. Several schools and some businesses have chosen to close.
Explosions have been heard coming from the Tottenham building, caused by "popping" hazardous chemicals, including acetone and oxy acetylene.
Earlier, Brown said the buildings's roof and walls contained asbestos and that crews were working to reduce the risk of fibres spreading into the air.
"What we are focusing on are the hazards inside the building, not so much the contents. We need to understand what we're up against so that we can put in effective strategies to extinguish this," he said.
He said the MFB was working with the Environment Protection Authority to monitor air quality near the blaze.
"We've had no spikes outside the area we're concerned about at the moment. But with the weather moving in and changing, we're looking at a strategy that we can try and minimise as much smoke impact on the community over the next couple of hours."
He said there had been no reported injuries, as authorities work to monitor the conditions of rotating firefighters to minimise exposure.
"With the focus now on the centre of the fire, we'll be able to that from above. We'll be able to start reducing our resources," Brown said.
Earlier, he said an extraordinary effort from crews still working to contain the fire prevented its spread to nearby buildings in the industrial area.
Crews will work to minimise further smoke plumes before a weather change arrives at 4pm, and will remain overnight to fully extinguish the fire.