University of Wollongong building evacuated after fire

2.30pm: A lithium battery being used by students for an experiment is believed to have sparked a fire inside a laboratory at the University of Wollongong on Friday. 

Fire crews were alerted the fire, within a second-floor lab inside building 15, just before 1.10pm.

A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman said the first crew was on the scene within a few minutes and reported a “working fire”.

An escalated (second alarm) response followed, with a total of nine crews dispatched to the scene. 

The fire was contained by about 1.30pm.

Six fire crews remained on the scene at 2.15pm, ventilating the building.

The fire service’s hazardous materials unit also responded to the incident, along with a number of police officers and paramedics. 

A UOW spokeswoman said five people were assessed by paramedics on scene for smoke inhalation. It is understood one of those assessed was a security officer.

No one was injured. 

Postgraduate student John Mabon said he and two others were in the building when they heard the fire alarm go off. 

“I smelt something and we searched and found smoke coming from under one of our physics labs,” Mr Mabon said.

“It [the fire] appeared to be caused by an electric bike battery. There were flames, lots of smoke and burnt carpet.”

Mr Mabon said one of the students used the contents of an entire fire extinguisher to douse the flames and prevent the fire from spreading.

He said the person who owned the bike had left the building to get some lunch when the fire started. 

1.25pm: An unknown number of people have been evacuated from the University of Wollongong after an electrical fire just after 1pm on Friday.

The fire, which broke out in a laboratory inside the Austin Keane building (building 15), has been extinguished.

It is understood no chemicals were involved in the fire, but a significant amount of black smoke is present in the vicinity.

A large number of Police and Fire and Rescue NSW crews are on the scene, with an exclusion zone set up around the building. 

UOW staff attacked the blaze with fire extinguishers.

UOW security officers are stationed around the building, with police officers also on scene.