Fire crews put out Canberra chemical fire

Updated September 17, 2011 08:06:56

Black smoke pours from Canberra fire

The chemical fire was visible from kilometres away on Friday.

Fire crews are starting to decontaminate the site of a large chemical fire that has shut down part of Canberra’s north.

They managed to extinguish the fire last night, 22 hours after it began, spewing a large cloud of smoke across the city’s skyline.

The fire broke out at a building in an industrial estate at Dacre Street in the north Canberra suburb of Mitchell about midnight on Thursday.

The suburb of Mitchell is off-limits for the entire weekend.

Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell says he understands the exclusion zone will be frustrating for many business owners in the industrial suburb.

“There’ll need to be some close examination of what has been the impact in the location and for that reason Mitchell will be closed until at least Monday morning,” he said.

Explosions woke nearby residents in the early hours of Friday morning.

Witnesses said a series of explosions during the fire sent flames shooting up to 200 metres into the air.

The fire was visible from kilometres away on Friday morning. Black acrid smoke was spewing into the air and roadblocks had been set up around the scene.

ACT Fire Brigade Chief Paul Swain says the fire broke out in a bulk store of flammable oil in a business which recycles oil used in transformers.

Lake Burley Griffin was closed as a precaution on Friday because of fears chemicals may be leaching into nearby waterways.

Atmospheric monitoring is continuing and one possible toxin indicator was detected yesterday, but authorities said it was well within safe limits.

There has been criticism about the way organisations and individuals were informed about the exclusion zone, which includes the entire suburb of Mitchell, and closure of services.

The ACT Government says it will review its communications procedures after the blaze.



First posted September 17, 2011 08:03:04

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