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Mitchell factory fire. ESA Reports of the major emergency.

By johnboy 15 September 2011 121

photo by thisisaname

The ACT Fire Brigade is responding to reports of a large factory fire in Dacre Street at Mitchell.

11:52pm Thursday 15 September 2011

A 300 metre exclusion zone has now been put in place.

Three fire pumpers, bronto, hazmat, BA unit and command crews are all on scene.

The ACT Fire Brigade is working with the business operator to identify the contents of the building.

The fire has now burned through the roof of the premises as firefighters work to extinguish it.

The ACT Ambulance Service also in attendance as a precaution.

12:15am Friday 16 September 2011

The building is located in the newer industrial estate of Mitchell off Hoskins Street.

Firefighters have been forced to move a few hundred metres back from the premises while working with the business operator to identify what substances are inside the building.

The business, Energy Service International (ESI), works with materials including oil from electricity transformers.

The fire has produced a thick smoke plume in the immediate area.

12:42am Friday 16 September 2011 – Update two – Factory fire in Mitchell

The ACT Fire Brigade has confirmed the fire is burning within an amount of mineral oil within the building.

Firefighters are now re-commencing firefighting operations using water and foam.

The ACT Fire Brigade has now ordered the evacuation of the whole suburb of Mitchell including a number of campers at Exhibition Park.

There is still a localised smoke plume but there is no threat to nearby residential suburbs of Harrison and Franklin.

Residents are advised to remain indoors.

1:14am Friday 16 September 2011

EMERGENCY ALERT issued

The ACT Fire Brigade has issued an EMERGENCY ALERT about the presence of a potentially toxic smoke plume to the suburb of Mitchell between Flemington Road and Gungahlin Drive and the Barton Highway and Wells Station Drive

1:50am Friday 16 September 2011

Firefighters have been forced to retreat back from the fire following multiple explosions and are now reassessing firefighting options.

2:27am Friday 16 September 2011

Firefighters are still working to bring the fire under control in the building which measures 30 metres by 40 metres.

Firefighting operations were interrupted earlier this morning because of multiple explosions from inside the premises.

The suburb of Mitchell remains evacuated due to concerns over the possibility of toxins in the smoke from the fire. Police are operating road blocks on all entrances to Mitchell. People should avoid the area until further notice.

Evacuation centres has been established at Canberra Stadium and Dickson College.

An EMERGENCY ALERT telephone advice has been issued for residents within a 10 kilometre radius to remain indoors until further notice.

People are urged not to ring 000 unless for a life threatening emergencies. All telephone inquiries should be made to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

4:10am Friday 16 September 2011

Firefighting operations are continuing on scene.

The ACT Fire Brigade is aiming to reassess the current exclusion zone by 6 o’clock this morning in the hope of reducing the area affected.

An evacuation centre is established at Dickson College and a reception area at Canberra Stadium which can be used as an evacuation centre if required. There is approximately 100 people at the Dickson centre and about 50 horses.

The EPA has confirmed nothing no material has escaped the site on the ground and into stormwater drain.

4:58am Friday 16 September 2011

ACT Fire Brigade is currently carrying out atmospheric monitoring throughout Mitchell with no abnormal readings to date.

People within a 10 kilometre radius of the site are still being asked to remain indoors and keep windows closed.

There have been no casualties as a result of the fire.

The Barton and Federal Highways are open as usual.

All roads into Mitchell remain closed, Gungahlin Drive, Wells Station Road and Flemington Road.

There will be significant disruptions to Acton Bus Services on the northside this morning as a result of the road closures. People can call Canberra Connect for more information.

5:28am Friday 16 September 2011

ACT Education and Training Directorate is currently working to determine the impact of the fire on schools on the northside today. Further advice will be provided as soon as possible.

The referral centre at Canberra Stadium has now been closed with all people seeking an evacuation centre should go to Dickson College.

5:55am Friday 16 September 2011

The ACT Fire Brigade is continuing to conduct atmospheric monitoring throughout Mitchell.

The by-product of the substance being burned, PCB, is a smoke plume that potentially could contain Phosgene.

Phosgene is known to cause irritation to skin and eyes, sore throat, nausea, headaches and dizziness, vomiting, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

The ACT Fire Brigade believe the risk to the community is low but continue to take all precautions.

People within a 10k radius of the fire are still advised to remain indoors with windows closed.

People outside this zone are strongly advised to stay away from the area and the smoke plume.

More information to follow.

6:37am Friday 16 September 2011

The ACT Fire Brigade have confirmed testing has resulted in no positive readings for Phosgene to date.

If further tests show the same result the 10k radius area of shelter will be significantly reduced.

Update to follow within half an hour.

6:59am Friday 16 September 2011

Further atmospheric testing in Mitchell has still found no sign of Phosgene in the air.

The smoke is rising higher and starting to dissipate.

The ACT Fire Brigade has now reduced the exclusion zone back to the suburb of Mitchell from the fire.

People are free to now move around north Canberra except within the exclusion zone at Mitchell.

People are asked to be patient with the delays that will be experienced.

The evacuation centre at Dickson College will remain open for as long as required.

7:35am Friday 16 September 2011

The ACT Education and Training Directorate advises all schools north of Lake Burley Griffin will remain closed today.

Parents are asked to keep their children at home if possible.

Staff will be on hand for supervision of students who may still attend.

Action school bus services have been cancelled north of the lake but all other services are now resuming.

7:44am Friday 16 September 2011

The race meeting scheduled at Thoroughbred Park today has been cancelled because of smoke from the Mitchell fire.

8:55am Friday 16 September 2011

The following roads are closed: Flemington Road/Randwick Road?
? ?
?Randwick Road/Barton Hwy?
? ?
?Gungahlin Drive northbound closed between Barton Hwy and Kosciuszko Ave?
? ?
?Left turn from Barton Hwy on to GDE – traffic being stopped from turning onto?
? ?
?Eastbound Barton Hwy – stopping all traffic turning onto GDE northbound?
? ?
?All southbound traffic on GDE from Kosciuszko Ave?
? ?
?Oodgerdoo Ave/ Marlowe St – traffic stopped from entering southbound GDE?
? ?
?Nullarbor Road and Flemington Road – access onto Flemington Road southbound blocked?
? ?
?Morriset Road/Flemington Road – access to Old Wells Station Road blocked?
?

EPIC has been reopened.

9:45am Friday 16 September 2011

Firefighters have the fire under control and contained within the building.

The ACT Fire Brigade is preparing to attack the fire directly with foam.

The fire still sending potentially toxic smoke over Mitchell with the exclusion zone still in place in the suburb.

Some media reports suggesting the ACT Fire Brigade has declared the smoke is not toxic are incorrect. The smoke is still potentially toxic.

ACT Ambulance Service remains on scene supporting the firefighters. No known patients have presented to hospital as a direct result of the fire.

9:50am Friday 16 September 2011

[Courtesy ESA]

If you’ve got a picture of the fire please send it in to images@the-riotact.com .

Photo by ThisIsAName. For more pictures sent in by the community check out our dedicated page.

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121 Responses to
Mitchell factory fire. ESA Reports of the major emergency.
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thatsnotme 9:50 pm 18 Sep 11

DUB said :

I am not an expert on how the mobile phone towers work, but I thought it would be fairly easy for them to send sms to all mobiles (regardless who the provider is), that were connected to a tower within the area.Can’t they do it?This way everyone is covered.

Not all mobiles will be connected to a single tower though. My Optus phone will connect to a different tower to my neighbour who has a Vodafone phone, and the guy across the street with his Telstra phone. So now, instead of the ESA simply sending an SMS to everyone in its ‘who lives in this area’ database, it would need to contact Telstra, and have them arrange a broadcast message, and Optus, to have them arrange the same, etc etc. By involving the owners of towers in the area, there’s a lot of potential for delays, and time critical information may go out more slowly than it needs to.

I think this is less a technological issue, as a management issue. Also, a single tower may cover areas not covered by the alert, so people who don’t need to be warned would receive the message.

Holden Caulfield 6:08 pm 18 Sep 11

I live in 2602 and my mobile phone is registered to an address at the GPO in Civic (2601) and I didn’t get an SMS. I’ve sent an email asking if I am able to register my street address with them for any future message that may get sent out. Although, I’m likely to sleep through them anyway.

Henry82 5:26 pm 18 Sep 11

Everyone knew the sms emergency system would be a joke when it was implemented.

DUB 1:37 pm 18 Sep 11

I am not an expert on how the mobile phone towers work, but I thought it would be fairly easy for them to send sms to all mobiles (regardless who the provider is), that were connected to a tower within the area.Can’t they do it?This way everyone is covered.

I-filed 9:00 am 18 Sep 11

sepi said :

I think the emergency phone alert system needs work.

Transacts phones and mobiles didnt’ get it. = That is a lot of people in the inner north where transact was rolled out first.

Also pre paid mobiles didn’t get it.

Isn’t Transact part owned by the ACT Government? If so – incredibly poor!

dvaey 8:50 am 18 Sep 11

Arthur McKenzie said :

No radio or TV announcements were made. None, even to call the ‘all clear’.

The first radio alert was about 2am on 666. Channel 9 also had coverage of the indicent. Infact, I even heard news of the fire made it to TV news in NZ.

Arthur McKenzie said :

Sending evacuees from a 10k exclusion zone to Dickson College was an excellent move – must be the shortest 10k in the world.

10k was the radius for the alert messages and the suggestions to stay indoors. The exclusion/evacuation zone was 300m from the fire, which didnt affect too many.

Arthur McKenzie said :

No explanation why you stay inside, no info on what was toxic in the smoke. Good move that one. The same dumbasses probably couldn’t spell the chemical words.

Did you read the ESA announcements? If not, go back to the top of this page and youll see this:

The ACT Fire Brigade is continuing to conduct atmospheric monitoring throughout Mitchell.
The by-product of the substance being burned, PCB, is a smoke plume that potentially could contain Phosgene.
Phosgene is known to cause irritation to skin and eyes, sore throat, nausea, headaches and dizziness, vomiting, chest pain and difficulty breathing.
The ACT Fire Brigade believe the risk to the community is low but continue to take all precautions.

Arthur McKenzie said :

Why was such a large volume of PCB or whatever it was stored in Mitchell so that the fire people didn’t know what was there and that such a large volume could go up in smoke.

As for why it was stored in this location, Im sure that information will come out. This is hardly the fault of the fireys, or emergency services. The fact that they werent alerted to the contents couldve had something to do with the fact that it was 12:30am, and within half an hour they HAD figured out what was in there and how to fight it.

Arthur McKenzie said :

Sounds like the company might have found out a cheap way of getting rid of excess stock.

Firstly, since this stuff isnt being produced anymore, I doubt theyd want to completely get rid of it. Secondly, if you think the cost of the rebuild plus the cost of any EPA fine wil be ‘cheap’, you might find yourself surprised.

sepi 10:21 pm 17 Sep 11

I think the emergency phone alert system needs work.

Transacts phones and mobiles didnt’ get it. = That is a lot of people in the inner north where transact was rolled out first.

Also pre paid mobiles didn’t get it.

Arthur McKenzie 7:46 pm 17 Sep 11

I think it’s quite fair to be critical of the emergency services. In fact the more critical the better because it appears they aren’t capable of acting professionally unless people tell them how. After all they let half the city burn down a few years ago, so this might be just creative practice for all we know.

The typo is in fact significant and shows how mickey mouse this government is. How much of our money has been wasted and then to almost completely lose credibility because it’s being driven by a semi-literate. Hopefully the person concerned can turn a hose on … ???

No radio or TV announcements were made. None, even to call the ‘all clear’.

Sending evacuees from a 10k exclusion zone to Dickson College was an excellent move – must be the shortest 10k in the world.

No explanation why you stay inside, no info on what was toxic in the smoke. Good move that one. The same dumbasses probably couldn’t spell the chemical words.

Why was such a large volume of PCB or whatever it was stored in Mitchell so that the fire people didn’t know what was there and that such a large volume could go up in smoke. If it was a petrol or oil dump they would have known and there would have been a bit of prevention in place.

The Canberra Times reported a legal expert who knows what’s going on here. Again, just like RIOTACT the so-called professionals are shown up for the dills they are.

Sounds like the company might have found out a cheap way of getting rid of excess stock. It wouldn’t be the first time this sort of ‘business rationalization’ has been done. And who’s been turning a favourable blind eye?

Good ol’ Katie spends more time on needle exchanges for crims instead of keeping our suburbs safe and air clean. I look forward to the weasel words from her and her Dad’s Army reps.

bigfeet 7:05 pm 17 Sep 11

bigfeet said :

mareva said :

Oh good the fire’s out. I just got a message confirming it.

“The Mitchell fire has been put out. Youse are free to go outside.”

You should apply for a job composing messages for the ESA. Your apostrophe usage is just what they are looking for.

Although on re-reading your comment I see you are using an apostrophe of omission. “fire is” = “fire’s”

I apologise and once again blame the shiraz.

bigfeet 6:57 pm 17 Sep 11

mareva said :

Oh good the fire’s out. I just got a message confirming it.

“The Mitchell fire has been put out. Youse are free to go outside.”

You should apply for a job composing messages for the ESA. Your apostrophe usage is just what they are looking for.

Deref 3:35 pm 17 Sep 11

Nifty said :

One for posterity: will we remember 9/16 as Canberra’s 9/11?

It’s great to see Americans posting here.

Just for future reference, the non-US world uses d.m.y, not m.d.y.

Deref 3:33 pm 17 Sep 11

mareva said :

Oh good the fire’s out. I just got a message confirming it.

“The Mitchell fire has been put out. Youse are free to go outside.”

This is a joke – right?

Jivrashia 2:30 pm 17 Sep 11

mareva said :

Youse are free to go outside.”

Okay, I have now conditioned myself to trust messages written in colloquial English as genuine. Anything in well written English will be treated with skepticism.

mareva 9:52 am 17 Sep 11

Oh good the fire’s out. I just got a message confirming it.

“The Mitchell fire has been put out. Youse are free to go outside.”

dan w 10:24 pm 16 Sep 11

ESA now reporting fire is out. Hats off to all the firies, ESA, and Emergency Comms personnel for a job very well done! Thanks for looking after us.

lucym 9:11 pm 16 Sep 11

dtc said :

Well done to 666, especially Julian Abbott and one of their female reporters (Jessica ?? sorry, cant remember her name) who, it seems, were called into the studio very early morning and kept things going and updated constantly. Ross Solly as well – looks like some lessons learnt from the bushfires. Obviously the ESA and the police get all credit as well

I wasn’t impressed with Ross Solly – woke up about 7 to his talking – it took about 20 minutes before he said anything about what had actually happened. We are in the inner north and he went on about staying inside, 10 kilometre exclusion zones (from where?), schools and turning off heaters but we had no idea why. A regular statement “For those who have just tuned in/woken up……” would have been helpful.

vg 8:12 pm 16 Sep 11

“The autocorrect thing often does that and when you’re in a hurry you are likely to let those stupid corrections go through”

Yes, it autocorrects it to a spelling mistake Einstein

Watson 7:16 pm 16 Sep 11

Nifty said :

One for posterity: will we remember 9/16 as Canberra’s 9/11?

You appear to already have forgotten Canberra’s 1/13 (2003 bushfires) so no.

HKL 6:58 pm 16 Sep 11

bigfeet said :

Jurls said :

Smokin’ zombies? 😀 😀

Smokin’ Hot Stripper Zombies?

I like the sound of that.

Transformers 4 : Revenge of the zombie strippers

bigfeet 5:59 pm 16 Sep 11

Jurls said :

Smokin’ zombies? 😀 😀

Smokin’ Hot Stripper Zombies?

I like the sound of that.

6

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