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Two teens arrested after fire engulfs factory

Two teens arrested after fire engulfs factory
Brendan Rees

Two teenagers have been arrested following a dramatic blaze that engulfed an abandoned factory in Southbank on July 6.

Fire crews were called to the fire in Clarendon St about 4pm following several calls to triple-zero of a building being “well alight”.

No-one was inside at the time and there were no reports of injuries, however the fire caused extensive damage to the factory.

Victoria Police are treating the blaze as suspicious, with Melbourne Crime Investigation Unit detectives interviewing two teenagers over the incident.

Police arrested two boys, a 13-year-old from Little River and a 15-year-old from Safety Beach, at Southern Cross Station on July 7.

“They were both released and are expected to be charged on summons with arson,” a police spokesperson said.

Victoria Police said they were expected to charge the teens with a series of thefts, robberies, and an attempted armed robbery in the CBD in recent weeks.

Ten trucks including an aerial appliance responded to the fire, which engulfed two small factories near Haig St, causing smoke to billow across the city skyline.

It took 30 firefighters just under an hour to bring the blaze under control.

“It looked shocking, there were enormous amounts of smoke,” said a witness, who was driving along City Rd at the time, adding there were “lots of sirens and people being moved out”.

A community warning was issued for people to avoid the area on Clarendon St between Crown and Citylink, which also caused traffic chaos with the closure of Clarendon St in both directions as well as the tram service.

A $60 million 48-level residential tower has been proposed for the site of the fire at 56-62 Clarendon St after plans were endorsed by the City of Melbourne in October 2017.

The state government’s planning department in July confirmed a ministerial building permit had been granted to developer Holder East on June 29, 2018, with the most recent activity being an extension of time to start the development

This was approved in April last year, allowing the approved development to start no later than June 29, 2024.

The 161-metre building has been designed by architecture firm Fender Katsalidis, which also designed Southbank’s Eureka Tower.

It would accommodate 208 dwellings, 128 serviced apartments and a cafe on the ground floor for residents and pedestrians.

Anyone with information relating to the fire urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au

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