Vic recycling facilities to be audited, fire under control

Recycling facilities across Victoria will be audited after a massive blaze ripped through a Melbourne plant, forcing the evacuation of dozens of homes and leaving some people in hospital.


The state government announced the taskforce on Saturday after the blaze took hold at the Coolaroo plant earlier in the week.

The Environment Protection Authority, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority and Emergency Management Victoria will make up the joint taskforce.

Environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio also announced an interim waste management policy that will force facilities to better store materials to minimise health and environment risks.

“We are taking immediate measures to ensure better protections for Victorians and our environment,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

The policy will stay in place for 12 months until a permanent solution is found.

Blaze under control: Premier

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the fire was under control after visiting the site on Saturday.

“There was a strategy put in place yesterday afternoon to increase the foam that’s been put on this fire, that’s been successful,” Mr Andrews told reporters.

0:00 Victoria Premier Daniels Andrews gives update on blaze Share Victoria Premier Daniels Andrews gives update on blaze

The premier said it was a “fantastic outcome”, and thanked firefighters from the ACT, South Australia and New South Wales, as well as other emergency services, for their support.

“There’ll be a lot of work to be done still in the coming days, but ahead of much more significant winds tomorrow it’s important to make that breakthrough,” he said.

During Saturday, two bulk water tankers and a turbine-aided firefighting robot will arrive from Fire Rescue NSW along with 10 crew.

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service has also deployed two tankers and a logistics vehicle and crew, along with two tankers and a command vehicle and crew from ACT Fire and Rescue.

0:00 Residents told to evacuate as Coolaroo fire persists Share Residents told to evacuate as Coolaroo fire persists

Thirty-eight trucks and about 130 firefighters have been working around the clock since the fire broke out in the stockpile of plastic, cardboard and paper.

Four people hospitalised

Four people, including a four-year-old girl, have been hospitalised due to toxic smoke, while 15 people were assessed by paramedics on Friday.

Upfield train station and 115 homes in the nearby suburb of Dallas were evacuated on Thursday night when air quality levels dropped to very poor.

A change in conditions allowed people to return to their homes on Friday, although residents were advised to monitor warnings closely in case the situation changes.

The plant – which also caught fire in February, June and on Wednesday afternoon – was due to be inspected on Thursday over its fire management practices, Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority said.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known but the MFB said it was not related to this week’s earlier fire.

SKM Recycling declined to comment because the incident was under investigation.

Melbourne-based Maddens Lawyers flagged a possible class action against the factory’s US-based owner-operator, SKM Industries.

A community relief centre has been set up at the Broadmeadows Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

Evacuees inside the Broadmeadows Aquatic and Leisure Centre which is serving as evacuation centre, Friday, July 14, 2107. AAP