Fires stoke residents’ fears


by Michaela Meade

Two fires in Hume in the past week have stirred up residents’ fears once again.

Residents of Broadmeadows and surrounding suburbs were issued with an advice warning after a fire at tyre recycling plant on Maygar Boulevard on Sunday, August 1.

Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) said firefighters arrived at the scene to find a pile of tyres alight and issuing a significant amount of smoke.

There was also a fire at a recycling factory on Northbourne Road, Campbellfield on last Wednesday.

FRV said crews found a stack of recycling materials in a waste compactor well alight.

Broadmeadows Progress Association secretary Sonia Rutherford said she had “instant anxiety” during last Sunday’s fire.

“When I saw the smoke… I got very anxious,” Ms Rutherford said.

“I thought, it’s coming again, only this time we won’t be lucky.

“It reawakened our experience, and our concern from previous [incidents].”

Ms Rutherford said the blaze at SKM Recycling’s Coolaroo plant in 2017 was the main reason for her concern.

The blaze took 11 days to extinguish and blanketed much of the northern suburbs in smoke.

Ms Rutherford said the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) needed to help quell residents’ anxiety.

“We’re surrounded by industrial sites, with that comes issues of all nature, we understand that,” she said.

“But what we have as protection… is sorely lacking.

“The EPA was given extra responsibility, and authority to do better.

“When I saw the fire on [Sunday] my immediate thought was, ‘why are these powers failing?’”

Anti-Toxic Waste Alliance president Colleen Hartland said the frequency of fires in the north-west had a major impact on community morale.

“It gives people that sense that we’re not valued,” she said.

“If we were, this wouldn’t happen.

“You don’t see this kind of thing happening in Toorak.”

Ms Hartland said monitoring was key to reducing fires.

“At the moment, there’s very poor air monitoring in these areas,” Ms Hartland said.

“With monitoring, [FRV] would be on top of it before it actually happens… they’d know where the core [of the blaze] is.”