Firefighters discovered more than a dozen young people living in shipping containers and caravans when they were called to a fire at an industrial complex in inner-city Sydney overnight.
Eighteen people, believed to be of an Asian nationality, were found inside the containers and vans at the back of a large factory compound in Alexandria.
Electricity had been wired to the units and they appeared to be well established on the site, NSW Fire and Rescue Acting Superintendent Wayne Phillips said.
Emergency crews were called to the fire at a public works building on Burrows Roads about 1.40am on Wednesday.
Acting Superintendent Phillips said firefighters found three shipping containers, each about 15 metres long, and two caravans close to the fire.
"Firefighters saw the the old caravans when they arrived and thought they should have a look and just make sure there wasn’t anyone inside them," Acting Superintendent Phillips, who was at the scene, said.
Four people in one caravan were rescued and another 14 were evacuated from the other units.
They were aged in their early 20s and were surprised when they were confronted by fire crews, Acting Superintendent Phillips said.
The containers and caravans were set-up at the back of the large factory complex, behind the public works building and a bus depot, he said.
Eighty firefighters battled the blaze and it was brought under control about 3am.
Police said the young people had been moved to a hotel for the day.
It’s not known how long they had been living in the makeshift accommodation.
A police spokeswoman said it would be a matter for the local council to investigate.
The fire caused damage of more than $500,000 to two buildings. Although the origin of the blaze is unknown, it's not believed to be suspicious.
Fire crews were still at the complex this morning and forensic police officers are expected to examine the site soon.
City of Sydney Council has been contacted for information.
The story People discovered living in shipping containers behind Alexandria factory first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.