Spectacular blaze engulfs office building in Sydney

Flames consuming plastic covering that wrapped the scaffolds in front of the office building on Macquarie Street on May 31, 2018.
Flames consuming plastic covering that wrapped the scaffolds in front of the office building on Macquarie Street on May 31, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Flames raced up scaffolding at a Sydney building site on Thursday (May 31), in a morning rush-hour fire that prompted the evacuation of nearby offices and caused downtown traffic gridlock.

"The flames really started to leap," lawyer Doug Thompson who photographed the fire from across the street, told Reuters by text. "Once it was off, it was away."

Pictures and video circulated online showed bright orange flames, briefly rising six storeys high, consuming plastic covering that wrapped the scaffolds in front of the office building on Macquarie Street.

The fire took hold around 8am (6am Singapore time), as office workers were making their way into the city.

The building is being renovated.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the scaffolding had been erected around the building to remove the cladding, which had been identified as a fire risk. The cladding was removed last week.

A dozen firetrucks arrived and together with police blocked off the street before firefighters extinguished the blaze less than an hour later.

A spokesman for Fire and Rescue NSW said about 20 people were safely self-evacuated and one person was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene before being transported to hospital for further evaluation.

"The fire is out," fire and rescue service official Norman Buckley told reporters, adding that the cause was being investigated.