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Shortly before midnight last night, emergency services were called to a chemical fire in North Canberra where residents were awoken by a series of huge explosions and fireballs from a factory fire in Mitchell. Reports say during the night flames leapt hundreds of metres in the air and the massive flames could be seen from many kilometres away. Emergency services raised fears over the spread of toxic smoke plumes across the area.
The Macquarie Bank Hack Championships were being held this weekend at Exhibition Park, and the fire meant many people and about 50 horses, had to be evacuated and taken to Dickson College.
Show organisers have advised that today's events have been cancelled and there will be a meeting at 2.00pm to decide whether or not the show should go ahead. The outlook is looking positive at this stage as the smoke is starting to disperse.
Horsezone's Jenny Goodwin spoke to Damon, one of the competitors who arrived back in Sydney from Canberra at 7am this morning, with his young warmblood. Like the others stabled at the Showgrounds, Damon had a terrifying start to the day after being awoken by 30 police with loudspeakers at 2.00am this morning.
Apparently it was absolute chaos at the showgrounds - understandably so! The police weren’t letting anyone in who was staying at hotels so those people had to leave their horses there, which must have been very stressful. Many of the horses that got out were taken to a local school grounds and stayed in their floats in the car park.
Emergency Services have now confirmed that the smoke is dissipating, and the exclusion zone has been reduced back to just the suburb of Mitchell.