An act of vandalism has caused substantial damage to one of Melbourne’s largest residential skyscrapers, West Side Place, at 250 Spencer Street.
News of the damage emerged on social media last night as residents posted photos and videos of water gushing in rivers down the internal stairwell.
Residents were forced out on the streets of the city, which remains in lockdown due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
Fire crews have this morning confirmed that someone “maliciously” turned on the hydrants in the stairwells from the 49th to the 16th floors soon after 6pm.
Crews were on scene within minutes to find that hydrants had been deliberately released on multiple floors of the 62-storey building, resulting in water gushing down the fire escape stairs and then seeping in to hallways. The extent of the damage is being determined today.
The flood forced the evacuation at 6.30pm of about 1000 people.
Fire crews worked with maintenance staff to drain the stairwells.
About 30 firefighters responded to the incident after a triple 0 call.
Both towers were evacuated as a precaution, but the damage was limited to tower A.
Victoria Police are continuing their investigations.
The luxury high-rise was built by developer Far East Consortium.
“Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of residents, and keeping them informed as the situation progresses,” a statement released this morning by the developer said Far East Consortium read.
“The flooding was isolated to tower A, and [affected] residents were placed in temporary hotel accommodation overnight.
“Tower B residents were cleared to return to their homes last evening once the site was deemed safe.
“We are working as quickly as we can to assess the damage and initiate a repair and restoration process, in conjunction with the builder, ProBuild, and the building insurers.”
Building manager Hedi Cherif was at the scene until 5am helping mop up.
He said that the residents of 73 apartments moved into alternative hotel accommodation last night would stay again tonight as investigations continue.
The apartment complex is only accessible to residents via a fob. There are no security cameras in the section of the building where the flood was started, he said.
When The Urban Developer contacted the sales team this morning, a spokesperson said: “This definitely doesn’t help our cause, that’s for sure.”
The spokesperson confirmed that the flood was caused by vandalism, rather than a fault within the luxury property.
The Cottee Parker-designed West Side Place comprises four residential towers, the tallest of which has 81 floors.
Apartments are in one-, two- or three-bedroom configurations, and are listed for between $446,400 and $1.3 million. Sales agents confirmed that approximately 100 apartments are currently avaiable for sale.
“Upon completion, West Side Place will be a destination in itself, consisting of over 2600 residential apartments, a new retail precinct, an extensive network of public gardens and leisure spaces, and Melbourne’s first Ritz-Carlton Hotel,” its website reads.
Residents seeking information have been provided with a dedicated hotline number.