Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Sydney historic building fire clean-up begins

NSW Police says a clean-up operation is now underway to prepare for make-safe demolitions as part of the multi-agency response coordinated by the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Surry Hills following a large building fire last week.

The EOC was stood-up last Friday to coordinate the operations of multiple agencies in support of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) as they worked to extinguish the blaze, which broke out just after 4pm on Thursday.

Specialist firefighters remain on scene monitoring the stability of the remaining structure and smouldering from deep within the rubble.

“The priorities for the emergency operation are to render the fire ground safe to allow on-site investigations, coordinate for the safe demolition of the remaining structures, limit the impacts on traffic and public transport, and importantly, house displaced residents and ensure the timely return to their properties,” NSW Police said in a statement.

Engineers and experts from NSW Public Works have been working closely with the building owners and their contractors to develop make-safe demolition plans.

Clean-up operations commenced earlier today on Randle Street, and it’s expected demolition machinery will be escorted onto the site this afternoon for works to begin tomorrow.

Occupants – including residential and business – of nearby properties have been advised to close windows and external doors while the work is carried out as dust and debris is expected.

Once the site is rendered safe, further assessments will be undertaken by contactors and engineers to determine whether the remaining structure will be salvageable.

At the same time, NSW Police Strike Force Strontium investigators and specialist crime scene officers will conduct inquiries, which will include the use of cadaver-detection dogs, and forensic imaging as sections of the rubble are removed.

“While police have not received any reports of missing people, investigators are unable to definitively say there is no one inside,” Police said.

Strike Force Strontium was established by detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit, assisted by FRNSW’s Fire Investigation and Research Unit, to investigate the circumstances of the fire.

“There are no further updates on the investigation at this time,” NSW Police said.

At least 100 people have registered as being displaced and many have been provided alternate accommodation through Welfare Services.

Police and firefighters are continuing to provide accompanied access to the buildings within the exclusion during daylight hours for residents to collect belongings.

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