Police are investigating whether or not the fire at Weston Aluminium was deliberately lit.
Firefighters remain on the scene to completely put out the fire at the Kurri Kurri industrial site which is still throwing up smoke around the local community.
Emergency services were called to the Mitchell Avenue site at 10:40am yesterday morning after two pallets of hand sanitiser caught alight which then spread into bushland and into two buildings at the front of the aluminium site.
Detectives from Hunter Valley Police District have commenced an investigation into the incident.
Anyone who may have information or footage, including dashcam, from the area is urged to contact Hunter Valley Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
For the local community the advice rom authorities is:
- Residents are advised to shelter indoors and remain clear of smoke.
- If you are indoors, close all windows, doors, vents and turn off air conditioning.
- Anyone with respiratory conditions should limit their exposure to smoke outdoors – if shortness of breath occurs, take reliever medicine or seek medical assistance.
Garbis Simonian, the Managing Director of the business said they have been allowed to go in and have a look to assess some of the damage, but it’s in the millions of dollars.
“We have insurance but it’s not just that. It’s the inconvenience, affecting our workers, its’ a total waste.”
“Luckily because the plant was shut there was no one here and no one has been injured so that’s one positive and the fire didn’t destroy the whole plant, just the front storage area but it’s going to run into millions and millions and millions of dollars,” he said.
“I want to thank the police, the services for putting out the fire and the community has been really positive as well, I thank them for their support.”
“Our employees have been fantastic, they’re all here trying to help and we will get through this,” said Garbis Simonian.
He is of the belief the fire was deliberately lit and police will investigate that possibility when they can safely access the site.
“It was hand sanitiser stored outside on pallets and that’s what [we believe] the arsonists came in, cut through a fence, and then started the fire at three different places and with the strong winds we had yesterday that’s whipped it and the fire went across,”
“The storage buildings had some embers and started to burn and that building is connected to another building with a rubber conveyer belt and that’s connected to the next bit and that’s how it spread.”
“But it was clearly an arsonist involved and the police are now investigating, it’s a crime scene.”
“It could be anyone, I don’t know,” said Garbis Simonian.
“There are some bad people out there, I can’t understand why they do this. I don’t know if they imagined the sort of devastation they’d cause,” he said.