17 Sep 2011

North Canberra still shutdown by fire

7:07 am on 17 September 2011

The suburb of Mitchell in north Canberra will remain shut down this weekend after a chemical fire sent a plume of potentially toxic smoke streaming over the capital city of Australia.

Firefighters say they hope to extinguish the fire on Saturday. However, residents there are warned to remain inside their homes overnight as a precaution.

Emergency Services have been applying a foam blanket over water and say the flames are contained and under control, but the ABC reports crews are still at the site and could remain there for several days.

Air monitoring will continue for days.

The fire broke out at a building in an industrial estate at Dacre Street about midnight on Thursday.

Fire crews initially brought the blaze under control, but were forced back by a series of explosions which witnesses said sent flames shooting up to 200 metres into the air.

Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell says a small number of people have sought medical help for minor respiratory complaints. He has urged anyone concerned about smoke inhalation to do the same.

ACT Fire Brigade Chief Paul Swain said the fire broke out in a bulk store of flammable oil in a business which recycles ''an oil product used in transformers''.

The ABC reports Lake Burley Griffin was closed as a precaution because of fears chemicals may leach into waterways.