Worker missing after fire engulfs Melbourne chemical factory

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One person is unaccounted for and several others, including two firefighters, were injured when a fire that remains out of control engulfed a chemical factory in Melbourne’s south-east.

A factory worker is yet to be located and two other workers were taken to hospital with upper body injuries from the Dandenong South fire that has been burning for several hours.

Two firefighters also received burns to the upper body when there was an explosion inside the Superior Drive factory as they were battling the blaze.

Nearby streets have been shut off and local businesses closed. Steel distribution business Metalcorp Dandenong evacuated staff because of the blaze nearby.

Strong winds are spreading thick black smoke across the suburb, prompting an emergency warning for nearby residents to seek shelter inside.

“Close all exterior doors and windows. Close vents and ensure heating and cooling systems are turned off,” the warning says. “If you are away from home do not return.”

Firefighters have been battling to control the blaze since about 12pm, which has been made more difficult due to the weather conditions and chemicals inside the factory.

Fire Rescue Victoria assistant chief fire officer Greg Christison said specialist firefighters were dealing with “very challenging conditions”.

“It’s a very challenging and complex fire to manage and mitigate at the moment,” he said. “They’re very challenging conditions today, the wind is quite extreme.

“It is going to be a long, drawn-out, protracted event for us.”

Ambulance Victoria said two men, including one in his 60s, had been taken to The Alfred hospital. Both were in a stable condition with upper body injuries.

They said two firefighters, a man in his 30s and another in his 40s, had been taken to Dandenong Hospital, where both were also in a stable condition.

Christison said the firefighters were being taken care of in hospital with all necessary welfare and support arrangements.

“During the course of their duties there’s been some internal fire activity which has caused some minor explosions and minor injuries to our firefighters,” he said. “Their care is our primary responsibility.”

Superior Drive, Hammond Road and Dandenong South Road were closed to all traffic on Friday afternoon. More than 120 firefighters and more than 40 vehicles remained on scene.

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