The owners of a commercial laundry in Belmont have been left devastated after an intense blaze ripped through their building, causing the building to collapse as black toxic smoke spewed into the air.
Firefighters rushed to Atlas Linen Services after receiving a triple-0 call about 6.30am on Sunday which sparked a response by a team of 50 crew from nine stations.
Basil Lenzo, who has owned the business with his wife Georgiana for two decades, said he had been told the blaze started in a truck outside and quickly jumped to the building. The cause of the blaze was not being treated as suspicious.
It took more than six hours to control the fire, a risky exercise with the roof of the factory collapsing as firefighters fought to save surrounding businesses from the same fate. The fire was declared as contained and controlled at 1pm. Contractors were then called in to demolish the building, a process that could take a number of days.
Mr Lenzo said he was relieved there were no injuries and said he was focused on how to help his customers, adding 100 staff members had also been impacted.
He said he was insured and estimated the damage bill to be about $10 million.
“I’m happy that no one’s been hurt… but again, it’s a building, it’s thing, it’s a business — it’s obviously our livelihood so it’s a massive impact to us, and again it’s not something you can walk down the road and restart.”
Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued a Hazmat alert, warning those within 500m of the fire to stay inside with the windows closed and the air-conditioning off as a pollution response team monitored the situation.
Fire incident controller Peter Sutton said there were a “lot of plastics involved and a lot of machinery”.
The Belmont Oasis Leisure Centre was closed as a precaution “due to concern of potentially harmful readings”.
Bunnings also took the decision to evacuate the busy store and close its doors. There were concerns the fire could spread to neighbouring businesses, including a firing range and a pet shop, but Mr Sutton said fire crews had done an outstanding job to contain it to the one building.
“It was very close, it definitely had the potential (to be worse) but like I said, crews have done an amazing job,” he said.
Businesses surrounding the fire are expected to remain closed on Monday.
Mr Sutton said a new rehabilitation pod was used for the first time. It allowed crews to recover in ice and misting fans after scorching stints in the fire ground. It will be used for all structure fires in the metropolitan area over summer.