FLAMES licked the evening sky in scenes reminiscent of burning buildings in wartime as Ipswich experienced its most spectacular inferno in more than 25 years last night.
Initial fears were that Ipswich's most popular tourist attraction, The Workshops Rail Museum, was alight. There was some relief that an old engineering building scheduled for demolition was one of three at the North Ipswich Railway Workshops on fire.
But that relief soon turned to major concern when fire crews on the scene said they believed both buildings contained asbestos and advised that Queensland Health should be notified.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) put out a call advising residents of surrounding streets to go back into their houses and shut doors and windows.
Fourteen fire trucks and 46 firefighters attended the blaze that started just after 6pm.
Councillor Cheryl Bromage was on an evening run when she got calls about the blaze.
"One is the old engineering building, a very old wooden building that has been disused for quite some time," she said.
"A lot of people are saying to me they haven't seen flames as high since Reids Department Store burned down in the centre of town (in 1985)."
Phil Davies, The Workshops Rail Museum business and facilities manager, was rehearsing a play down the road at St Joseph's School when one of his colleagues received a message on Facebook saying the museum that attracts 100,000 visitors each year was on fire. He rushed down to the scene and was relieved to find his beloved museum still standing
QFRS set up a command post inside the main entrance to the workshops.
Numerous people called the Queensland Times to say they could see the fire in the sky many kilometres away. Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale also attended the scene. The cause of the fire will be investigated.
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