A 125-year-old Moonee Ponds courthouse building in Essendon has caught fire on Monday following the arrival of dozens of firefighters on the spot. The top floor of the building located on Kellaway Ave and Mount Alexander Road was on fire at around 8:30 am, the sources confirmed.
“The top floor is going totally going which houses the historical museum,” a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokesman said. “We got the call at 8.32am … there are about 14-15 trucks on scene.”
Almost 45 firefighters hit the scene to save the building that preserved the World War I items having historical importance. The courthouse has served as a home to the Essendon Historical Society. According to The Age, a local building surveyor inspected the courthouse properly. Despite several damages done to the infrastructure, the surveyor declared it as structurally sound.
An MFB spokesperson confirmed the fire was under control until around 9:38 am. Brigade’s Acting Commander Geoffrey Hughes said that around 48 firefighters were required to undertake the fire control action. In 45 minutes, the fire was brought under control.
“When we arrived flames were issuing out through the windows,” he said as quoted by The Herald Sun. “Fire investigators and police are on their way and we will determine the cause hopefully within the hour.”
The Moonee Ponds has been used as a museum for so long. It contains old historical records, documents and photographs. The specialty of the place is that it has preserved WWI items that constitute world heritage. The courthouse has journals, letters, badges and other items that survived the war.
It has yet not been revealed whether the fire has damaged the old records. Hughes confirmed that the damage is mostly done to the roof and timber and it is expected that the historical files were safe. Meanwhile, Essendon Historical Society President Bob Chalmers said that the Moonee Ponds fire was heinous.
“I don’t know what could have caused it … We had an open fire that was on yesterday, but that was completely out,” Chalmers said. “I’m heartbroken, this is just shattering. This place is a huge part of my life especially for the past 18 years since I retired … I’m just devastated. We’d just had $90,000 worth of upgrades … most of our photos and historic files are in the room at the back that looks burnt out. I have no idea how much this would cost to restore at this stage.”