You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bank fire suspect yet to be questioned

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Melissa Meehan and Genevieve Gannon

Police are yet to interview an asylum seeker suspected of setting himself alight and causing an explosion at a Melbourne bank, injuring 26 people including several children.

The man and another person are in a critical condition in hospital, while four others are being treated for burns, after the blaze at Commonwealth Bank branch in Springvale.

Witnesses say a man walked into the bank carrying a container of accelerant and set himself alight on Friday morning.

Staff and customers were trapped inside as the flames took hold before passers-by helped them escape through a rear exit.

Twenty-seven people, including the suspect, were treated by paramedics.

Police say the 21-year-old man is still under guard in hospital and they have, so far, been unable to interview him.

It's reported he is an asylum seeker from Myanmar whose rage was sparked over a welfare payment.

"It is very shocking for us, but this is not about race or religion. This is about the mental health condition of an asylum seeker," a member of the Australian Burmese Rohinga Organisation, Habib Habib told ABC.

"The system makes all of them crazy. They're in legal limbo."

It is understood the man, named by other media as Nur (or Noor) Islam, arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and had recently become homeless - staying with friends in Springvale, just kilometres from the bank.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection was contacted for comment but did not respond.

Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce did not comment on the man's status from Darwin when asked by reporters on Saturday.

He said nothing was more disturbing than a burns ward.

"Maybe he had lost his mind, I don't know," he said.

"You'd have to lose your mind to do something so cruel."

Commonwealth Bank spokesman Matt Comyn confirmed on Saturday 15 staff members were hospitalised after the fire ripped through the branch.

"We appreciate the heartfelt messages of support we have received from the community and we'd like to recognise the quick thinking of bystanders and speedy response from police, fire and ambulance services," Mr Comyn said in a statement.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon