A fire that tore through an abandoned Melbourne strip club is being treated as suspicious, with authorities saying the circumstances are “unusual”.
Police are investigating for possible arson after a fire, which detectives are treating as suspicious, engulfed an abandoned strip club in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Goldfingers, on the intersection of Lonsdale and King streets, went up in flames shortly after midnight on Tuesday, with emergency services quickly arriving at the scene.
It took more than 50 firefighters to battle the blaze, which was brought under control within 90 minutes.
The fire was so strong it blew out the property’s windows and damaged two nearby buildings.
It is believed the fire started on the second floor, which was destroyed along with the top level.
Crews have still not been able to enter the second level due to safety concerns after major structural damage was caused when a floor collapsed.
There are still ho spots throughout the building.
A crime scene has been established by police, who are treating the fire as suspicious.
“At this stage we’re currently considering it to be suspicious until we can come up with another cause,” Fire Rescue Victoria central district operations commander Mitch Simons said.
“There’s some circumstances surrounding the fire that crews discovered early that have led us to take the conclusion.
“It’s unusual for a fire to start without any power to the building.”
FVR commander Matthew Blandford told 3AW that it was one of the biggest fires seen in the CBD for “some time”.
He believed no one was in the building but could not rule out the possibility squatters were inside.
“That’s unconfirmed at this stage; I can’t confirm or deny that. We’re not really sure,” Mr Blandford said.
Mr Simons said the building was “well frequented” by squatters but it was unable to be confirmed at this stage if anyone was inside.
“One of our biggest concerns is that’s it’s a known squat and the severity of the fire has restricted our crews from making a normal entry to search for people,” he said.
VicTraffic has advised that King St is closed in both directions between Little Bourke and Little Lonsdale streets, with diversions in place and bus and tram services disrupted.
Lonsdale St is also closed between Spencer and King streets.
Police have warned there will be major delays, as the intersection will be closed to traffic and pedestrians for most of the day.
Drivers have been advised to user Spencer or Latrobe streets as alternatives and allow for plenty of extra travel time.
The club was forced to close during the Covid outbreak, with videos on social media showing people doing late-night tours of the abandoned property earlier this year.
The heritage-listed building is more than 100 years old and was formerly known as the Kilkenny Inn.
Anyone with information surrounding the fire is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as Suspicious midnight fire destroys abandoned Melbourne strip club