WATCH: Massive scaffolding fire in Sydney
PLUMES of black smoke are billowing across Sydney's CBD from a large fire on Macquarie Street.
It is understood a cafe caught alight and dozens of people have taken to social media to post images of the fire - which appears to be spreading up scaffolding on a high-rise building at the busy street.
Twelve fire trucks with 75 firefighters are on the scene. Macquarie Street is now closed commuters should expect significant delays.
A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman said the fire is now "under control" and 20 people have been safely evacuated from the building. However, he said operations to battle the blaze are still ongoing.
The building, which is opposite the State Parliament and covered by scaffolding and safety mesh, is understood to house barristers chambers.
Emergency services are responding to a fire at a construction site on Macquarie Street at Sydney. There have been no reported injuries. Diversions are in place, please monitor https://t.co/t5HOqM5ERb.— NSW Police (@nswpolice) May 30, 2018
NSW Police said there have been no reported injuries but peak-hour commuters should expect delays.
"Emergency services are responding to a fire at a construction site on Macquarie Street at Sydney," a spokeswoman tweeted. "There have been no reported injuries. Diversions are in place."
A spokesman for Fire and Rescue NSW tweeted: "Crews are fighting a scaffolding fire on Maquarie St, no injuries reported, operations are ongoing."
"It looked like it started around level six and it's gone all the way to the top," one witness told the Daily Telegraph.
"Now it's melted down the building and stripped everything else below it.
SYDNEY | The fire in Macquarie St involved external scaffolding and NOT cladding. Cladding on the front of the building was removed last week. Here’s a view of the blaze that firefighters encountered on arrival. #FRNSW has extinguished the fire & salvage & overhaul is underway. pic.twitter.com/Dbs6auDutZ— Fire and Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) May 30, 2018
Another witness, Ignatius Corboy, told the Today show emergency services are using an extended scaffolding device to battle the remainder of the blaze.
"It is halfway up the building, seems to be a little bit still going," he told the show. "It is all under control now, but it is certainly extensive damage on the side of the building and the scaffolding seems to be ruined as well.
He added that there was a massive emergency presence and a huge crowd of onlookers while the fire was growing, but emergency services quickly cleared the area.
"They have done a fantastic job of clearing the scene and getting it under control," he added. Witnesses say the exclusion zone starts right at the start of Macquarie Street down all the way down to the Woolloomooloo turn-off.
Another witness told 2GB he initially tried to put the fire out.
"I saw a small fire that had started on the scaffold," the witness, named Shane, told the station.
"It didn't look that big at the time, so I basically was just sitting above the awning level, so I grabbed the fire extinguisher and went up inside the staircase of the scaffold and tried to sort of attack the fire.
"But quite quickly it just got out of control and I very quickly got out of there."
It is understood the fire broke out around 7.45am and two people were trapped at the top but they have since been rescued.
Witnesses say that, within five minutes of the fire starting, the whole building was ablaze. One witness told 9 News it appeared to be started by an electrical spark, which ignited plastic mesh on a part of the construction site.
The building at 233 Macquarie St is behind the Supreme Court of NSW buildings. Macquarie St between Prince Alfred Rd and Hunter St is closed in both directions.
Two ambulance crews were on standby, a NSW Ambulance spokesman said, but there were no reported injuries.
Fire investigators tracked the cause of February's blaze to one of the construction workers' oxyacetylene blowtorches, according to a Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman.
The fire comes three months after another major building blaze in the CBD which brought the city to standstill and forced the evacuation of thousands of workers as gas bottles exploded.
More to come.