Police have confirmed a fourth child has come forward in relation to the fire that tore through an abandoned building in Sydney’s Surry Hills on Thursday.
Legal representation for the young person told police that the child will not be assisting the police in the investigation.
“Last night we received advice from a fourth young person’s legal representative that they will not be providing a version by way of interview or statement,” said a spokesperson for NSW Police.
“Available evidence will now be assessed in relation to further action.”
Shortly after the fire, two 13-year-olds came forward to assist police with enquiries. Following this, a 12-year-old came forward on May 27.
NSW Police have chosen not to reveal what the young people have told them at this time.
“At this stage, we‘re not going to reveal what they’ve actually said,” NSW Police Superintendent Gordon Arbinja told 9News.
“We’ll go through the whole investigation and then we’ll work out what the best and most appropriate measure is to solve this matter.”
According to 9News, a group of young people were seen running from the building on Randle Street near Central Station at around 4pm on Thursday, May 25. NSW Police’s arson squad have been investigating the blaze.
“I can confirm that two young people handed themselves in at two separate police stations in the late hours of last night,” acting assistant commissioner Paul Dunstan said, per 9News.
“We are speaking with these young people throughout the evening and they are now assisting police with our inquiries.
“I can further confirm we are aware of a further three or four other young people who were present during the fire.”
Dunstan urged the other children to come forward with their parents.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a witness also saw a group of school-aged children running from the scene on Thursday.
“I saw about three or four high school kids … running out from one of those doors of that building,” Phu Tang, who works at a business on Randle Street, told the outlet.
“Those kids were running hastily on the corner of Randle Lane and Randle Street, looking up and talking to one of the children who was still stuck in that building, asking why is that kid still up there.
“They were screaming and swearing at each other and calling for that child [still in the building].”
Tang described the kids as wearing grey school pants with hoodies over the top of their heads, per SMH. He estimated that there were more than five but less than 10 kids at the scene.
As of Friday morning, firefighters were continuing to extinguish the remnants of the fire. While the blaze was contained around 10pm Thursday night, crews were still working to make the area safe for civilians.
“We’ve obviously made a lot of progress overnight. There are still some road closures in the area, but the fire is almost extinguished,” Acting Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell told 2GB.
“It’s still going to take a little while 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.”
Although the fire is almost out, Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry is now worried about the buildings’ collapsing’ stability after the structural damage caused by the flames.
“We are talking about tonnes and tonnes of bricks that could come down and become projectiles,” he explained to 9News.
“That is why we have such a tight exclusion zone, not allowing anyone in, including firefighters until we get the engineers in.”
While crews work to make the area safe, road diversions have been put in place along Elizabeth, Randle, and Chalmers streets in Surry Hills, which may affect some bus routes. Light rail services are now operating as normal.
Thankfully, Fewtrell confirmed at a press conference on Thursday that no member of the public was harmed in the blaze.
“The information we have [is that the] buildings were vacant or unoccupied. They were under construction or about to have demolition or work done,” he said, per The Guardian.
The inferno managed to burn through two buildings and caused some of the structures to collapse. Per 9News, the flame also engulfed a car outside the building.
With the fire occurring in such a populated area, hundreds of Sydney-siders saw the terrifying blaze and uploaded jaw-dropping footage to social media.
“The vision is absolutely distressing, we know that some of the walls have fallen, we can see that some of the windows have exploded and I think what’s taken us all by surprise is just how noisy this has been,” ABC’s Harriet Tatham told ABC News.
“There have been several explosions directly across the road from Central Station and the light rail stop, surrounded by thousands of people.
“The fire has totally engulfed the inside of the building. We understand that bricks have fallen onto nearby cars and there have been small spot fires that have gone onto nearby balconies that crews are trying to put out.
“Police have said it’s unclear if this building is vacant or not, at this stage that’s incredibly distressing. Firefighters are attacking it from two directions.”
(Source: Supplied by Matty Galea).
(Source: Supplied by Ky Stewart).
We will have to wait for more information on how the fire broke out, but for now, it’s good to know that no one was seriously injured by the blaze.
Picture Credits: Kate Geraghty, FRNSW, Channel 9