“Of course it would be upsetting for them, but their parents or someone accompanying them is with them,” he said.
It is possible, Arbinja added, that the children will be prosecuted.
“We know they were inside the building, but the investigation is ongoing,” he said.
“At this point we will not reveal what they actually said.”
An exclusion was set up around the building, which also includes neighboring apartment buildings. At least 100 people have reported to social services that they have been displaced from their homes by the fire.
“Once the site is made safe, further investigations will be carried out by contractors and engineers to determine if the remaining structure is salvageable,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“Residents – including residential and commercial properties – on neighboring properties are advised to close windows and external doors while this work is being carried out as dust and dirt can be expected during this work.”
Fire and Rescue NSW said on site that engineers and experts from NSW Public Works said there was no asbestos risk to the community as a result of the fire.
Martin Dwyer, director of technical emergency management for the New South Wales Government, said it was unlikely the bricks could be recycled from the building as they posed a low asbestos risk.
“There’s probably going to be a problem recycling the tiles because it’s almost certain that part of the roof was fibro,” he said.
“Therefore, the bricks and rubble are considered as contaminated with asbestos and are therefore not recycled. It’s actually a pity, but there’s not much you can do about it.”
Authorities cannot predict when streets and surrounding buildings will reopen.
Firefighters have removed windows from surrounding buildings as they were unstable due to the fire’s extremely high temperatures and could fall to the ground.
Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Adam Dewberry said the priority is getting people back into their homes as soon as possible. However, due to the complicated city system, he does not want to make the situation worse, which is why detailed planning is necessary.
“We also need to consider the essential utilities under the road, including a major gas line that supplies electricity to the city,” he said.
“We have to make sure we don’t make the situation worse by destroying it or causing this building, which has unsafe walls for those parts, to collapse on top of other unaffected buildings.”
Chalmers Street remains closed from the Cleveland Street intersection to Central Station and all of Randle Street. Elizabeth Street is also closed southbound between Eddy Avenue and Devonshire Street. A few small alleys near the site are also closed.
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