Published: 15:36, May 25, 2023 | Updated: 20:05, May 25, 2023
Building collapsed, people evacuated in massive Sydney fire

This picture shows a fire at a building in Sydney on May 25, 2023. More than 100 firefighters battled towering flames and thick smoke from a seven-storey blaze in central Sydney on May 25, warning that it is spreading to other buildings. (PHOTO / AFP)

SYDNEY - A major fire has broken out at a building in the suburb of Surry Hills in central Sydney on Thursday afternoon.

Fire and Rescue New South Wales (NSW) said emergency calls were received when flames started engulfing the building just after 4:00 pm local time. More than 100 firefighters and over 30 fire trucks are working on the scene to contain and extinguish the blaze.

The building partially collapsed, while the inferno spread to several neighboring buildings, including residential apartments

The building partially collapsed, while the inferno spread to several neighboring buildings, including residential apartments.

At least one vehicle in the vicinity has been destroyed by fire.

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The fire and rescue service also urged the public to avoid the area as firefighting operations continue.

"When we first got over there, there was a couple of small flames coming out of windows from like the bottom of the building, and then it escalates just two minutes later. You can literally feel the heat out of the fire," said Cassie da Silva, who was hanging out with two friends in a park nearby.

She told Xinhua that when the building collapsed, there were firefighters underneath and you could see them running away while screaming "get away."

Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry said the fire began on level three of the building, according to a report by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News.

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"We got the fire on the third level of what we believe is a seven-level block. We have people evacuating and firefighters entering this building to fight this fire," he said.

Acting commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW Jeremy Fewtrell told Xinhua the fire has been contained, but there's still a significant amount of material within those two buildings are still burning.

"It'll take us several hours. I expect we'll have crews working on the scene throughout the night, probably into the morning tomorrow," he said.

"Thankfully, all the surrounding residents and members of the community passing by have not reported any injuries that we're aware of."

A firefighter suffered a small minor burn on the arm and received treatment from the ambulance paramedics.

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The fire also caused peak hour gridlock as major roads around Randle Street have been closed, and buses are being diverted. The light rail was halted and some entrances to Central Station are only for entrance and not exiting.

Fewtrell said the cause of the fire is still unknown at the stage and the fire investigators are already working on the scene, gathering early witness reports of what people saw at the first stage of the fire.