Warehouse Toxic Smoke Is Affecting Families

Melbourne warehouse fire leaked fumes from chemicals into neighbouring areas

140 firefighters worked for 17-hours to control a blaze that burned an inner-west Melbourne warehouse. However, the blaze was only half of the problem. Fumes from the chemicals being stored inside the warehouse were spreading into the air, affecting people in the neighbouring areas. One of these people affected was Claire Halford.

“If I lit a match and held it to the air, it felt as if the air would catch on fire. The smell was so volatile and irritating, it was absolutely disgusting,” she said.

The warehouse is next to Stony Creek, which flows close to Claire’s house. The water used in the firefight flowed into the creek, taking many of the chemicals with it. As a result, it killed 2000 fish and other wildlife, while also affecting Claire’s family’s health.

Claire said her "nose began to run involuntarily and [she] had a very difficult time breathing and seeing.”

Claire was not alone in her suffering, with a survey by the Greens revealing that 433 residents found 35-percent had headaches, 32-percent had respiratory problems, and a quarter had sore throats after the fire.

Greens MP Huong Truong said that they’ll be sharing the data they’ve collected so they can see how “widespread the incidences have been and to equip doctors and GPs and hospitals to advise people…”

It’s since been revealed that the Melbourne warehouse wasn’t registered under the Dangerous Goods Act. Worksafe and the EPA inspected 133 industrial sites in the area and found that there were 81 breaches of the rules for the handling and storage of dangerous goods. Residents are now concerned about what else is being kept near their homes.

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