Firefighters expect an out-of-control fire blazing inside a tyre dump in Melbourne’s north to burn for another day and a half and are warning people to stay away from the toxic smoke.
The fire, which has already burnt through more than 130,000 tyres, started about 9am on Monday at an industrial area in Broadmeadows, attracting some onlookers as it emitted a plume of toxic black smoke visible 75 kilometres from the site.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s deputy chief Andrew Zammit said emergency crews have been attacking the fire with more than 10,000 litres of water and fire retardant each minute.
Two extra-large fire trucks from Melbourne Airport’s fire services were sent to help.
“We knew that these types of fires aren’t easy to extinguish,” he told reporters on Monday.
“We have our friends from the airport who have sent two large trucks that actually deliver quite a large amount of fire-extinguishing medium.”
Sky cranes dropping foam and water from above have helped crews make good headway in extinguishing the blaze, Mr Zammit said.
The EPA is monitoring air quality and fire run-off – such as water and fire-retardant – into nearby rivers and creeks, but Mr Zammit said the MFB’s quality control shows carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels to be “well within our expected limits”.
Residents have nonetheless been warned to stay away and shut windows and doors.
“The smoke is toxic, and if you can, please just watch it on TV,” he said.
Crews will work overnight to put out the blaze, the biggest they have had in a while.
“I have no idea what started this – yet,” Mr Zammit told reporters.
Cooler conditions and forecast rain on Tuesday will help.
Incident Controller David Youssef said the community could be confident the MFB would control the fire but it would take time.
A watch and act message remains for Broadmeadows, Campbellfield, Coolaroo, Dallas, Fawknew, Gladstone Pk, Glenroy, Gowanbrae, Hadfield, Janaca, Lalor, Meadow Heights, Reservoir, Thomastown and Westmeadows.