Fire destroys Benalla recycling shed

A LARGE galvanised steel shed at the Benalla Recycling Centre was gutted in a fire early on Saturday morning.

The 20 by 40-metre shed, used to process plastic, paper and cardboard, contained a pressing print, forklift and car, which were all destroyed.

Arriving at the Lowens Lane address just before 2am, about 45 CFA firefighters took 3½ hours to control the blaze, the cause of which is still being investigated.

Benalla police Sgt Brad McMennemin said the shed was “unsalvageable”, estimating the cost of the damage to be up to $250,000.

“It will need to be demolished,” he said.

“There was so much fuel around there was no way there wasn’t going to be extensive damage.”

Sgt McMennemin said another car on the privately owned property had also been destroyed.

Benalla Fire Brigade captain Bill Polwarth said the fire started in paper left outside and spread to the shed at the rear of the property.

“The shed was totally involved,” he said. “It was all on fire and going pretty well.”

Mr Polwarth said firefighters faced numerous obstacles at the site, including working in the dark and rain.

“The biggest problem was access and no water pressure,” he said.

Mr Polwarth said they were forced to use a “quick cut” — similar to a chainsaw — to cut a hole in the shed.

They used a forklift to remove the shed’s contents, cooling it down before they were able to enter.

The SES was called in to light the area, while an electrical company cut the power.

Twelve CFA units attended the scene, including two from Benalla and one each from Warrenbayne, Goorambat, Goomailbee, Winton, Lurg, Baddaginnie, Molyullah and Wangaratta.