A Melbourne shopping mall is facing a $1.4 billion repair bill, amid an escalating fire that destroyed two floors of the mall.
ABC News is told the fire destroyed at least five floors of an 870,000 square foot shopping centre in the city’s west, the country’s largest.
A crane had to be used to pull the building apart from the rest of the complex to be removed, but it was clear the fire had damaged at least two floors, the ABC understands.
“It’s a very expensive, very complex undertaking, it’s not going to be completed overnight,” Victoria Fire and Rescue Services spokeswoman Jill Tew said.
Tew said firefighters were still assessing the damage to the building and expected to be back in the area tomorrow to assess the damage.
Victoria’s premier told ABC radio he believed the blaze was due to a lack of maintenance and safety, but he did not want to get ahead of his investigation.
Firefighters were working to contain the blaze, which was still out at around 4:30pm (AEST).
“There’s a lot of smoke and fire out there,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“We need to do everything we can to minimise the risk of further injuries and destruction.”
The blaze broke out in a busy mall at the corner of Melbourne’s west and east roads.
It was initially reported at about 4:15pm (local time), but was not immediately confirmed as the cause of the fire.
The fire had forced the evacuation of thousands of shoppers.
There are no immediate plans for anyone to be able to leave the mall, as the fire department continues to assess damage to buildings.
People in the mall’s surrounding streets were advised to avoid the area.
Topics:fire,melbourne-3000,vic,brisbane-4000,vicnews,melbourn-4215,vicsource ABC News (18)