Residents at a fire-damaged Melbourne high-rise covered in flammable cladding will have to wait until at least next week before they can go home.
Two extra emergency orders and a show-cause notice were issued on Wednesday for Spencer Street’s NEO 200 tower, including that the complex be vacant for up to another 14 days.
Essential safety measures including smoke detection, smoke control, sprinkler systems and emergency warning systems need to be restored before people can return.
“Under the best-case scenario, residents will be able to return to the building by next week but this is dependent on a number of factors,” the City of Melbourne said in a statement.
It’s likely to take extra time until the 40-storey building is declared safe to occupy, given the extent of damage, the council noted.
From Wednesday night, the building will be closed while repairs take place and re-occupation will be planned in stages.
Testing to confirm the make-up of exterior cladding on the tower is yet to be finished after a cigarette sparked a fire on a 22nd-floor balcony.
The address had previously been identified as “moderate risk” due to its cladding and was one of more than 2000 inspected by the Victorian Building Authority.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade assistant chief officer Trent Curtain said fire crews noticed a range of fire safety issues inside the apartments, including large amounts of combustible materials left on balconies and plastic covers over smoke alarms.
“We noticed in some apartments there were a large number of beds … which we think would be inconsistent with the use of the building,” he said.
An emergency relief centre has reopened at Melbourne Town Hall for residents affected.