Another flammable cladding fire in Australia highlights government failure


Another flammable cladding fire in Australia highlights government failure

Paul Bartizan

6 February 2019

The complete failure of all levels of government in Australia to fix the problem of flammable cladding was on display early on Monday morning when yet another high-rise building erupted in flames.

The fire, which is believed to have been ignited by a cigarette, began on a balcony on the twenty-second floor of the NEO200 apartment block in central Melbourne, and spread rapidly up five levels of the building’s 41 storeys. Eighty firefighters were able to quickly douse the pre-dawn blaze, and fortunately only one resident suffered smoke inhalation.

NEO200 apartment block in central Melbourne

Over 370 apartments have been evacuated, and residents remain locked out of the building located on the corner of Spencer and Little Bourke Streets, pending rectification of fire safety systems. The operation of automatic fire sprinklers within the apartments in the affected levels prevented the fire spreading internally but caused significant water damage.

The apartment block was designed by Hayball Architects, and construction was completed in 2007 by LU Simon. The building was awarded the 2008 Master Builder Association’s Excellence in Construction Award. The website claims that the apartment block is “maintained to a high standard by a range of professional staff with oversight of the executive committee of owners.” A real estate website offers a penthouse in the building for $1.3 million and a two-bedroom apartment for $629,000.

Just 750 metres around the corner from NEO200 is the 21-storey Lacrosse apartment block which caught fire in November 2014. At Lacrosse, a balcony fire similarly caused by a smouldering cigarette spread up 13 floors on the outside…

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