Firefighters in Canberra have battled for more than eight hours to bring a massive chemical blaze under control.

The factory fire erupted at midnight, sending flames hundreds of metres into the air and releasing thick clouds of potentially toxic smoke.

Melanie Rica reports.


Loud blasts shook houses in the northern Canberra suburb of Mitchell.

Resident: “There was some massive explosions and I didn’t go outside, I just thought it was military testing or something.”

The burning factory housed an energy company, which produces oil for electrical transformers.

That prompted fears of toxic chemicals being released into the skies.

Residents within a 10 kilometre radius were told to stay in their homes.

Two hours after midnight more explosions.

Black acrid smoke was visible from kilometres away in the heart the Nation’s Capital.

It took teams of firefighters more than 11 hours to bring the fire under control.

The ACT Fire Brigade have tested the burning material for the dangerous chemical phosgene.

But they say the risk to residents is low.

However, the fire is still sending thick smoke over the city.

Police have cordoned off a 300 metre boundary around the factory.

Schools were closed for the day. Parents were told to keep their children at home while the chemical fire burned.

Melanie Rica, QUT News.