Southbound lanes on Spencer Street are closed this morning between Bourke Street and Lonsdale Street following a fire at the Neo 200 apartment block.

Early investigations suggest the fire began on a 22nd-floor balcony before spreading to the 27th floor. The Age reports 150 residents were evacuated from the 41-storey building, which contains 371 residential apartments.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade was alerted to the fire at 5.43am. The response was upgraded after it was discovered the building had combustible cladding. More than 65 firefighters attended the blaze. The fire was too high to extinguish from outside the building, so firefighters climbed the stairs to extinguish the fire internally. The fire was under control by 6.49am.

Vicroads is advising drivers allow extra time if they are travelling through the area and to use King Street and Wurundjeri Way as alternative routes.

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