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More than 100 owners and residents of a Docklands apartment tower have registered their interest with Slater and Gordon lawyers who, together with Nowicki Carbone, are investigating a potential class action over a fire at the building on 25 November 2014.

The fire at the Lacrosse building, 673-675 La Trobe Street, spread rapidly up the exterior of the building.

Slater and Gordon Commercial and Project Litigation lawyer Ben Hardwick said the Melbourne Fire Brigade’s (MFB) Post Incident Analysis Report, released on Monday 27 April 2015, confirms that the use of shoddy building materials was responsible for the rapid spread of the fire. It was ignited by an unextinguished cigarette butt left on the balcony of an apartment on the sixth floor and quickly spread to top floor of the building on the 21st floor.

“The Building Code of Australia requires that building materials used as external walls must be non-combustible.

“The CSIRO observed that building materials used as exterior cladding of the Lacrosse building were clearly combustible, with sustained flaming observed within 55 seconds of the commencement of their test. In fact, the CSIRO had to terminate the test to prevent damage to their equipment.

“Owners and residents of this building are rightly asking how an Occupancy Permit was ever issued for this building. They now face the prospect of not only having to deal with the aftermath of the fire, but will potentially be faced with costly rectification works to replace the external walls of the building or make them safe.

“This creates more uncertainty for owners and residents and adds to what has already been an extremely stressful and expensive experience for all of those involved.”

Mr Hardwick said that purchasers of apartments in large apartment complexes should not need to worry that their building does not comply with relevant building standards.

“Unfortunately, the experience at the Lacrosse building will raise alarm bells for purchasers and occupiers throughout the city. There is no guarantee that the Lacrosse building is the only building impacted by this problem.”

Slater and Gordon will run an information session for residents and property owners of the Lacrosse building at its office at 485 La Trobe Street next week to provide advice about legal rights and the potential for compensation for losses suffered as a result of the fire.

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