LAUN­DRY BLAZE TOX­INS LINGER

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

TOXIC chem­i­cals have con­tin­ued to smoul­der hours af­ter a com­mer­cial laun­dry was de­stroyed by a fierce blaze, with fire in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­able to en­ter the site yesterday to de­ter­mine the cause.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called to Townsville Laun­dries on Wool­cock St at Gar­butt about 6.20pm on Wed­nes­day but the in­tense fire de­stroyed the build­ing and caused a struc­tural col­lapse. Neigh­bour­ing busi­nesses were un­der threat and fire crews bat­tled to pro­tect them.

Queens­land Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vice Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Unit In­spec­tor Stephen Knight said of­fi­cers were still putting out spot fires yesterday and had painstak­ingly re­moved bulk com­mer­cial chem­i­cals and large stacks of cloth­ing and manch­ester.

“It’s a fairly con­gested area and at this stage we are still mov­ing items out as we can and ex­tin­guish­ing them, which is a very slow process,” Insp Knight said.

“It was a pretty in­tense fire and we had sev­eral other jobs at the same time, which made it hard but our crews were ex­cep­tional. Un­for­tuna- tely, though, there is no sat­is­fac­tion for the own­ers of the orig­i­nal build­ing who would be pretty dev­as­tated.”

Insp Knight said a vol­un­teer sci­en­tific of­fi­cer and coun­cil work­ers had been on scene to help with the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of chem­i­cals and to mon­i­tor wa­ter tox­i­c­ity lev­els be­fore they en­tered a nearby drain.

He said in­ves­ti­ga­tors would have to wait un­til breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus was not re­quired at the site be­fore they could en­ter the build­ing and de­ter­mine the cause of the blaze.

Townsville City Coun­cil In­fra­struc­ture Com­mit­tee chair Trevor Roberts said the coun­cil was also called in to help.

“The coun­cil re­sponded to a re­quest from Fire and Res­cue to cre­ate a sand bund on the site to con­tain wa­ter used to fight the fire and pre­vent any po­ten­tial con­tam­i­nants from en­ter­ing the nearby stormwa­ter drain,” he said.

“Fire and Res­cue have been able to have the bunded wa­ter pumped to vac trucks and safely re­moved.”

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