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Heroic efforts applauded after bank attack

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Melissa Meehan

The heroic efforts of passers-by who tried to help those trapped inside a Melbourne bank after a man set himself alight have been applauded by emergency services.

An explosion occurred when the 21-year-old man set himself on fire after walking into the bank carrying a container of flammable accelerant at 11.30am on Friday.

Ashley Atkin-Fone was in a lane near the Commonweath Bank in Springvale when he heard a loud blast followed by people screaming.

Mr Atkin-Fone rushed across the road to Optus, grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put the fire out.

"This kid comes running out, screaming his head off, with skin hanging off everywhere," he told reporters.

"I was in shock, but then instincts took charge."

He entered the bank but people had already been evacuated from the back exit as the fire alarms ran out.

Junior Dean also went to rescue those inside the building, completely filled with black smoke, and yelled out so they could follow his voice to the exit.

Other shopkeepers and passers-by provided water and ice for those suffering burns until emergency services arrived.

Twenty-seven were taken to hospital - six of them in a critical condition.

CFA operations officer Paul Carrigg described the actions of Mr Atkins-Fone and others as "fantastic".

"They were great, really good - and the combined efforts by civilians, witnesses and emergency services was fantastic," he told reporters at the scene.

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