Firefighters and police remain at the scene of a major building fire near the Newcastle CBD.
About 2.35pm yesterday (Tuesday 1 March 2022), emergency services were called to a storage facility on Annie Street, Wickham, after reports of a large building fire.
Upon arrival, more than 100 firefighters from Fire and Rescue NSW spent several hours battling the blaze within two buildings.
As of today (Wednesday 2 March 2022), the fire has been contained, however it’s estimated fire crews could be at the site for a number of days continuing to extinguish hot spots.
Officers from Newcastle City Police District and the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command attended and established an exclusion zone, with residents and businesses from several neighbouring streets evacuated as a precaution.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Public Works Advisory and a licensed asbestos assessor are on-site to investigate the potential risk of asbestos. Air monitoring will be implemented in the area to provide the community with assurance.
Residents from Robert Street are now permitted to return to their homes, with police, Fire and Rescue NSW HAZMAT crews and EPA officers currently assessing and cleaning Milford Street – with the intention residents should be able to return to their homes this evening.
A key control mechanism for asbestos is to dampen the material and the rain has assisted this process. Damp asbestos materials release far fewer asbestos fibres into the air. The community should stay away from any suspected asbestos material.
The EPA are interested in reports from the community in relation to potential asbestos from the fire and encourage the public to report any suspected asbestos they may encounter in the area to EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555 or at [email protected]
A public meeting and information session for affected residents and businesses will be held tonight (Wednesday 2 March 2022) at 7pm at the Goodlife Church in Albert Street, Wickham.
Detectives have established Strike Force Lynette to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire. Anyone with information which may assist investigators is urged to come forward.
Anyone with information about Strike Force Lynette is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.