Explosion at Bondi Junction

Published: 30th March 2009

This afternoon firefighters responded to an automatic fire alarm at a shopping centre in Spring Street, Bondi Junction. A short time later numerous Triple Zero (000) calls were received reporting an explosion. Firefighters from Woollahra, Randwick, Darlinghurst, Bondi, City of Sydney, The Rocks, Crows Nest, Balmain, Hazmat specialists from Greenacre and Alexandria and senior officers converged on the emergency. The shopping complex comprised two residential apartment buildings of 30 storeys and a shopping complex on levels 1 through to 9, where more than a thousand people were evacuated during the incident. On arrival fire crews were told by people on scene that a large explosion had occurred on the upper level of one of the residential buildings. Firefighters entered via the fire stairs and proceeded up the building. They found many occupants trying to escape and were told of damage on upper levels. At this time it was suspected there may have been many casualties, however only two people were injured and were treated at the scene and transported to a nearby hospital. On reaching the upper levels, fire crews found that an explosion had occurred in the level 30 plant room. The force of the explosion had caused extensive damage from level 30 down to level 26, with most doors blown off hinges and some walls completely destroyed. Firefighters began searching the upper floors for casualties and occupants were assisted from the building. Many of the residents were elderly and a total of 80 people were evacuated from the building, many carried down 20 or more storeys by firefighters. A structural engineer confirmed that the structural integrity of the building was sound and with the arrival of the NSW Fire Brigades Urban Search and Rescue semi trailer, with equipment needed for major structural collapse, firefighters were able to conduct a thorough search of the rubble on upper levels. Fortunately no further casualties were found. Once fire crews had completed a final search on each floor and Hazmat specialists gave the all clear, the incident was handed over to NSW Police for further investigation.