People living close to the burning West Footscray factory have spoken of their concerns after smoke billowed across their neighbourhoods, causing schools and businesses to close.
Kingsville resident Dave Stembridge was woken up about 5am on Thursday morning to a series of explosions.
“I heard about five small bangs and initially thought it could be water getting stuck in the drainpipes,” he said.
He went outside to see what was happening and after noticing nothing untoward went back to bed.
“It wasn’t until later that morning when I got up and saw the black smoke filling the air that I had a look at the news and social media and realised the explosions had come from a nearby factory,” he said.
Mr Strembridge lives in Bishop Street across the road from Kingsville Primary School where his two young children attend.
He said the school went into lock-down on Thursday, with parents being called to pick up their children about 11am as toxic smoke continued to shroud the area.
“I was a bit worried when I went to pick them up but the school handled it really well and they’re keeping all the parents informed,” he said.
"My biggest concern now is that we just don’t know what chemicals are in the smoke … I mean is it acetone?
"Is it a paint factory that’s gone up in flames? Is it a wool factory? We just haven’t really been told anything.”
Mr Stembridge said the family had no immediate plans to evacuate their home unless the wind changed direction, but were continuing to rely on advice from the EPA.
"At the moment the smoke is blowing away from the house," he said.
"But if the smoke starts coming towards us, we'll be in the car and out of here."
West Footscray resident Rebecca Bugg, who lives close to the scene and closed her nearby veterinary clinic due to the fire, has expressed anger at the lack of information from authorities.
Ms Bugg went to move her car at 7am on Thursday morning when she saw plumes of thick, black smoke, filling the sky and billowing towards her house in Indwe Street.
“It was really scary at the time, it looked like it was the empty paddock across the road and that it was coming right for our house,” she said.
'What am I inhaling?'
“I had this chalky taste in my mouth from the smoke which made me think what am I inhaling?”
Ms Bugg, who lives on the edge of the industrial area where the fire is burning, said she was frustrated that authorities hadn’t door-knocked and residents alerted them about the fire.
“We still don’t know what chemicals the smoke contains or what’s burning in the fire,” she said.
“We’ve been kept in the dark about it all day which is really concerning. It had been burning for hours before I went out to move my car this morning, and despite being so close to the fire, nobody came to warn us about it.”
Ms Bugg, who owns a veterinary clinic in nearby Barkly Street, said she had closed her business for the day and picked up her two-year-old son from day care amid concerns for the welfare of her staff and animals being brought into the clinic.
The Metropolitan Fire Brigade is holding an information meeting for residents from 7pm at Footscray Town Hall.