2018 West Footscray warehouse fire

The 2018 West Footscray warehouse fire was a major industrial fire that occurred in the border of West Footscray and Tottenham, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, beginning on 30 August 2018. The fire took the Metropolitan Fire Brigade several days to fully control and emitted a large plume of toxic black smoke, visible across Melbourne.

Warehouse fire in West Footscray in 2018



The warehouse where the fire occurred is owned by Danbol Pty Ltd; the sole director and shareholder of which is Christopher James Baldwin, an accountant based in Shepparton.[1]



Emergency services were first called to the factory at 420 Somerville Road, West Footscray around 5am on 30 August 2018, arriving six minutes after the first call. The 100-by-200-metre (330 ft × 660 ft) warehouse was fully alight. 80 firefighters and 20 fire-fighting appliances initially responded, with the number of firefighters eventually rising to more than 140.[2][3][4] Firefighters' ability to reach the centre of the fire was hampered by walls of shipping containers and 44 gallon drums stacked up within the warehouse.[4][5] A week after the fire started, hotspots remained.[5]



Initial investigations in the aftermath of the fire indicated the cause was suspicious. Detectives from the Victoria Police Arson and Explosive Squad assumed responsibility for the investigation into the exact cause of the fire.[6]

WorkSafe Victoria announced after the fire that the warehouse was not registered to store dangerous chemicals.[5] As a result of community concern, Worksafe inspected other industrial properties within the area, and "found dozens ... that also failed to comply with the [Dangerous Goods] act".[5] Environment Protection Authority Victoria also investigated links between the owner of the site, the lessee, and other properties in the north of Melbourne, where industrial chemicals were found to be stored illegally at Lemon Springs in Kaniva.[1]

At the request of the firefighters' union and Metropolitan Fire Brigade, a coronial investigation was opened into the incident.[7]

Health effects


In the hours after the fire began, authorities issued a "community advice warning" for Brooklyn, Kingsville, Tottenham, West Footscray, Altona North, Braybrook, Footscray, South Kingsville, Spotswood, Sunshine, and Yarraville, with residents being warned to close windows and doors. Residents were still reporting health issues three weeks after the fire.[8] Firefighters were also concerned about the longterm effects of exposure to toxic chemicals.[7][9]

Environmental effects


Within hours of the fire, dead fish, eels, birds and other wildlife were washing up dead on the banks of Stony Creek.[10] The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) warned people not to eat fish from Stony Creek or the lower Yarra River, and not to enter, put their hands into or allow dogs into the creek.[8] As of March 2019, EPA Victoria continues to monitor the water and sediment of Stony Creek for pollutants including phenol, BTEX, PFAS, acetone and butanone.[11]


See also



  1. ^ a b Ilanbey, Sumeyya; Vedelago, Chris; Cooper, Adam (2 January 2019). "New toxic factories and West Footscray factory fire link to same man". The Age. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  2. ^ Hinchliffe, Chris Vedelago, Cameron Houston, Joe (1 December 2018). "Concerns toxic blaze lit to conceal chemical stores". The Age. The Age. Retrieved 11 January 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Factory fire in West Footscray". Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board. 30 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kerr, Jack (6 December 2018). "Photographs raise more questions about Melbourne warehouse fire mystery". ABC News. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Kerr, Jack; Oaten, James (7 September 2018). "West Footscray fire warehouse was not registered for chemical storage: WorkSafe". ABC News. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  6. ^ Hinchliffe, Joe; Precel, Nicole; Colangelo, Anthony (1 September 2018). "Arson police investigate cause of West Footscray factory fire". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. ^ a b Vedelago, Chris; Houston, Cameron; Hinchliffe, Joe (2 December 2018). "Concerns toxic blaze lit to conceal chemical stores". The Age. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Rohan (20 September 2018). "Residents still struggling three weeks after West Footscray factory fire". News.com.au. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  9. ^ Ilanbey, Chris Vedelago, Cameron Houston, Sumeyya (7 November 2019). "What happened to us in West Footscray? Firefighters call for answers after toxic fire". The Age. Retrieved 12 February 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Fox Koob, Simone; Cunningham, Melissa; Emery, Sarah; Preiss, Benjamin; Towell, Noel (31 August 2018). "Scores of dead fish, eels wash up after Melbourne factory fire". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Waterways around the West Footscray industrial fire". EPA Victoria. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.