Six Critically Injured after man sets fire to a Melbourne Bank

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MELBOURNE (9News AU) – Six people are in hospital, and 21 others have been injured after a man allegedly set fire to himself inside a Commonwealth Bank branch in Springvale.

Paramedics rushed to the bank on Springvale Road about 11.30am, and treated 27 people, including the offender, for a mixture of burns and smoke inhalation.

“The man had some sort of accelerant, and lit that accelerant which caused a fire within the bank. He lit himself alight, and injured a number of other people,” Inspector Jacqui Poida from Victoria Police said.

Five people have been seriously burnt and dozens others injured after a fire broke out at a Commonwealth Bank branch in Springvale, Melbourne.

Police say the man used some form of accelerant to light the bank, and himself, on fire. (Facebook: Daniel Chau)

Insp. Poida said it was “too early in the investigation” to determine whether it was terror-related.

Six people are being treated for burns in the Alfred Hospital, and more than 20 have been treated for a mixture of smoke inhalation and burns.

Two people remain in a critical condition, while one person is in a serious condition and three others are stable, a spokesperson for The Alfred confirmed.

“There were chaotic scenes, paramedics had to access, treat and transport 26 people,” Andy Roughton from Ambulance Victoria said.

The alleged offender is under police guard in hospital.

A nearby tradesman said he heard a “huge blast” go off, and quickly rushed over to assist.

“A second after the blast, this guy comes running out with skin hanging off… I was shocked. I sprinted across the road to the Optus shop and grabbed the fire extinguisher,” Ashley Atkin-Fone said.

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“I put the fire out, took four steps inside and was shouting and shouting. I couldn’t hear anyone.”

Ashley Atkin-Fone was working near the Commonwealth Bank when he heard a blast go off.

Of the six critically injured are five men aged between 20 and 70, including the alleged offender, and a woman in her 20s.

21 others – ranging from a toddler to people in their 80s – were treated for breathing problems and were taken to the Monash Medical Centre and the Dandenong Hospital.

It’s believed the man used an accelerant to light the blaze which subsequently caused an “explosion”, Operations Officer at CFA Dandenong, Paul Carrigg, said.

State Health Commander Paul Holman said Ambulance Victoria’s Emergency Response Plan was activated to the highest level given the large number of people injured.

“Twenty-five ambulance vehicles were sent to the scene including a health commander and ambulance managers, an emergency support vehicle, and ambulance buses,” he said.

Six people are in a critical condition. (9NEWS)

A witness wrote on Facebook they saw people coming out of the building, saying their “faces were all black and their [sic] suffocating”.

Commonwealth Bank Australia released a statement confirming the incident.

“Our first priority is the safety of our staff and customers and as a result, the branch will remain closed for the rest of the day,” the statement read.

“Our response team is on site, and we are working closely with authorities and emergency services.”

Springvale Road is closed in both directions between Balmoral Avenue and Windsor Avenue, and is expected to remain closed “for quite some time”.

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Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
9News Australia

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