Sri Lankan refugee suffers serious burns from Melbourne factory blaze

Sri Lankan refugee suffers serious burns from Melbourne factory blaze

April 6, 2019   05:36 pm

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A Sri Lankan refugee who was injured during a chemical factory fire in Melbourne is recovering in hospital after being engulfed in flames.

Vignesh Varatharaja, who fled the civil war in Sri Lanka to start a new life in Australia, was set on fire after a chemical drum he was pumping exploded.

Mr Varatharaja was taken to a specialist burns unit where he remains unconscious in a serious but stable condition.

More than $13,000 has been raised by the Migrants Workers Centre to help meet Mr Varatharaja’s upfront medical costs.

The chemical fire tore through the waste management factory, which stores hazardous waste, in Campbelltown early on Friday morning.  

Footage of the fire showed a gas canister launching into the sky after being ignited by the blaze.

The fire caused thick, black smoke to spew over Melbourne yesterday and firefighters have yet to completely extinguish the blaze.

About 30 firefighters and 11 trucks continue to fight the blaze but they are being cautious as the structure of the building has been compromised.

An investigation into the fire has been launched following a request from the fire brigade.

The secretary of the The Australian Workers Union (AWU), Ben Davis, shared concerns about Mr Varatharaja’s condition.

‘He was working out there at the company when the fire started, he was immediately transported to the Northern Hospital and then from there to the Alfred hospital,’ Mr Davis told the ABC.

‘As we all know you don’t get to the Alfred unless you’re quite unwell. He is quite badly hurt.’

Members of AWU stated they raised concerns last year about the factory’s unsatisfactory health and safety conditions.

In the wake of the fire, it has been revealed by 9News that the owner of the factory is linked to four other warehouses stocked with hazardous material.

Bradbury Industrial Services, who operated the factory, had their licence to accept material revoked on March 15 by Victoria’s Protection Authority (EPA).

The inspection conducted by the EPA found that the company had stored 400,00 litres of hazardous material on site when their license only permitted 150,000.

The EPA stated that the day before the fire, 300,000 litres of hazardous material remained at the factory.

Source: Daily Mail Australia

-Agencies

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