A fire raced through a Melbourne fibreglass factory like a bushfire, a worker who fled the blaze says.
Toolmaker Ken Crouch was working on the other side of a brick wall as two explosions rocked the Bolwell manufacturing plant in Mordialloc.
He fled with about 30 workmates and they watched as the fire quickly took hold.
“It was like a bushfire, but very, very black,” Mr Crouch said.
“The fire went up through the roof and took off.
“You could see all the exhaust fans starting to collapse, the roof collapsing and all the iron and that falling on the floor. It moved pretty quickly.”
Nearby residents were warned to remain indoors with air-conditioners off, and doors and windows shut as toxic smoke spread from the factory, but that advice has since been lifted.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade assistant chief fire officer Darren Davies said the cause of the fire has not been determined.
He said about two-thirds of the factory has been destroyed, with an early estimate of at least $1 million damage.
“There was a very high fire load. Fibreglass burns very quickly. We had a strong northerly wind blowing that helped fan the fire, so it took more than an hour to control the fire,” he said.
More than 80 MFB and CFA firefighters were on the scene at the height of the blaze early Thursday morning.
The fire is under control but crews will remain on site for most of the day.
Mr Crouch said there was no work for about 50 permanent workers and about 30 casuals had already been dismissed.
“Obviously, there is no work. They have got to clean the place up and work out their plans of what they are going to do,” he said.
“As the day goes on we’re going to be angry. We’ve all got houses and things to pay for. That’s all going to be up in the air. What can we do?”