Teens hand themselves in after fire destroys Sydney heritage building

Two teenagers in Australia have handed themselves in to authorities after a fire at a seven-storey heritage-listed building in Sydney.

On Thursday, a former Henderson Hat factory on Randle Street, Surry Hills, was gutted in a fire.

The fire sparked chaos in central Sydney with several neighbouring towers evacuated. People were heard screaming as bricks and large chunks of walls started crashing to the ground, local media reported.

A group of young people were seen running from the scene, New South Wales police acting assistant commissioner Paul Dunstan said on Friday at a press conference, reported ABC News.

He said two 13-year-olds handed themselves in at two separate police stations last night, and are assisting with their investigations.

“The two people we have spoken to are 13 years of age, we believe the other people are of a similar age,” he was quoted as saying.

Officials said that they are aware of three or four other young people who were present, and are urging them to come forward with their parents.

The blaze has been described as “once-in-a-decade type of fire”.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) acting commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said the fire was a “defining point” in the careers of all the firefighters who attended to it.

“The one thing I can guarantee at the end of their careers, this is one of the highlights they will reflect upon,” he was quoted as saying by the outlet.

Authorities said fire crews had to work through the night to control “the extremely intense fire” while some of the walls posed a significant threat of falling down, FRNSW superintendent Adam Dewberry was quoted as saying.

“[It was] a rapidly escalating fire, very intense, an abandoned building, old timbers, dried out timbers, and in some reports, rotted out, which all contributed to the significant intensity and spread of this fire,” he said.

Authorities said at least 70 residents were displaced from the surrounding buildings, with an exclusion zone expected to stay in place for seven days, reported the BBC.

Fire officials said that a probe into the cause for the blaze was taken over by NSW Police Arson Squad.

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