Combustible cladding fears as fire spreads up Melbourne apartment complex

Combustible cladding fears as fire spreads up Melbourne apartment complex

Combustible cladding fears as fire spreads up Melbourne apartment complex

Residents of the 40-storey building at 200 Spencer Street were woken by an early morning fire alarm on Monday and emergency crews rushed to the site, knowing of the added potential danger.

Firefighters eventually managed to contain the blaze and enter the building to to tackle it from the inside, as glass and steel came crashing down onto the streets.

Spencer Street remains closed in both directions between Bourke Street and Little Bourke Street, impacting Route 86 trams through the CBD.

The MFB on Monday night confirmed a lit cigarette was the most probable cause for the blaze - which they say ignited combustible materials stored on the balcony.

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Builders LU Simon would not comment on the fire so soon after the incident.

"Neo 200 achieved certification and approval from the building certifier and relevant authorities at the time".

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The City of Melbourne, Victoria Police, the Salvation Army and Ambulance Victoria are providing assistance at the relief centre.

Former premier Ted Baillieu, who co-chairs the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, said building notices were issued to last July and October, identifying the problem.

A lit cigarette is believed to have started a Melbourne high-rise fire that reignited concerns about combustible building cladding, similar to that fitted to London's Grenfell Tower.

He said a show cause notice to fix the cladding had been issued. "Subsequently the City of Melbourne required the building owners to upgrade fire safety measures and this work was completed". The incident, together with the Lacrosse building fire, prompted Australian states and territories, except the Northern Territory, to audit the use of aluminium composite panels (ACPs).

Although the MFB were aware of the type of cladding used in the premises, the Neo200 building was not on their enhanced response list.

"Likewise, we will continue to push for meaningful change to the building procurement process to ensure that cost alone is not the sole consideration, rather long-term safety and quality are counted as key determinants in the decision making process".

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