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Two Major Sydney Fires

Published: 14th July 2006

Firefighters from Sydney’s inner city suburbs were kept busy on the night of 13 July 2006 with two major building fires.

The first fire was reported at around 9 pm when numerous triple zero calls indicated a building on fire in Parramatta Rd at Petersham. When fire crews arrived they found flames and large volumes of smoke coming from the roof at one end of the top level of a two storey brick building used as a gymnasium. Urgent assistance was requested as firefighters went about trying to contain the fire and ultimately 40 firefighters from eight stations were committed to fighting the fire. Fifteen people were evacuated from adjacent premises as the fire ripped through the top floor.

Fire crews positioned ladder trucks to direct water streams from elevated positions in an effort to protect the surrounding property. Other firefighters attacked the heart of the fire with hoses. An hour into the operation the fire was contained.

The fire seriously weakened the structure and a collapse zone was set up around the building to allow the firefighters to work in safety. Fire crews remained at the scene well into the next morning ensuring complete extinguishment, mopping up and assisting with investigations.

The fire extensively damaged the top floor of the gymnasium. The lower floor was affected by heat, smoke and water. There were no injuries. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the NSW Fire Brigades Fire Investigation and Research Unit and the Police.

Calls to the second incident came just 15 minutes after the first. Once again the NSW Fire Brigades was inundated with triple zero calls reporting a building on fire in Cleveland St at Chippendale.

Fire crews were on the scene six minutes later to find a two level brick industrial building, believed to be an auto electrical business, with both floors heavily involved in fire. More firefighting resources were requested urgently and 30 firefighters from 6 inner city brigades were committed to handling this fire.

Due to the intensity of the heat and a number of explosions occurring within the burning building, 150 people from nearby residential buildings were evacuated and placed in the care of the Police, as firefighters went about containing the fire.

Once again, ladder trucks were used to protect surrounding buildings as fire crews used large hoses to suppress the flames. The fire was contained within about 45 minutes. At the height of the blaze sections of the building collapsed. To address this risk a collapse zone was established early on, with firefighters maintaining a safe distance from the building’s walls.

The fire ripped through both floors of the building causing extensive damage. However, firefighters successfully protected the surrounding property. Crews remained at the scene throughout the night and well into the next day mopping up and assisting with investigations. No injuries were reported.

The Police and the NSW Fire Brigades Fire Investigation and Research Unit are examining the circumstances surrounding this blaze also. Structural engineers have been called to both sites to assess structural integrity and determine the future of the buildings.