“We’ve obviously made a lot of progress overnight. There are still some road closures in the area, but the fire is almost extinguished,” he told 2GB.
“It’s still going to take a little while [to extinguish] because a lot of the debris from the building collapsed in on [itself], and so there’s a big pile inside the building burning underneath all that debris.
“It’s very hard for us to get the water exactly onto that and fully extinguish it, so we’ve had crews working throughout the night.”
Chalmers Street remains closed from the Cleveland Street intersection to Central Station, along with all of Randle Street. Elizabeth Street is also closed southbound between Eddy Avenue and Devonshire Street. A number of small alleyways near the site are also blocked.
Light rail services are now operating as normal, while some bus routes have been diverted including routes 308, 310, 343, 374, 320 and 440.
Fewtrell said the cause of the fire remains unknown and police and fire investigators will determine that once it is safe to do so.
“With the extent of the damage to this scene, it’s going to be very difficult to gain access to that and do a thorough investigation safely in the early stages.” he said.
The blaze broke out at a vacant building on 11 Randle Street near Central Station about 4pm on Thursday and was quickly escalated to a “10th alarm” status, the most severe type of fire.
Explosions could be heard as the blaze engulfed the site. A huge fireball rose up moments before a major wall section exploded outwards, showering the street in bricks, concrete and other debris.
More to come.