Three Cobram firefighters have returned safe from the toxic Morwell mine fire in Gippsland.ROBERT HENSON March 7, 2014 4:08am
Cobram firefighters join brigades from around south-east Australia to hose down smoldering coal at the Morwell mine fire.
Three Cobram firefighters have returned safe from the toxic Morwell mine fire in Gippsland.
Cobram Fire Brigade’s captain Adrian Hilder with firefighters David Beard and Jamie Rowlands answered the call, departing last Monday at 11
After two 12-hour shifts on Tuesday and Wednesday last week battling spot fires and toxic gases, the trio were happy to return home.
Mr Hilder said the group were tasked with watching for spot fires, assisted by the ‘‘heavy concept tanker’’ which allows remote-control fire fighting from inside the vehicle.
‘‘Our roles were mainly watching for spot over embers coming out of the mine, which, unfortunately on Tuesday, happened,’’ Mr Hilder said.
‘‘It burnt within metres of the power plant.
‘‘It was a Cobram tanker that was there at the time that it happened, so we were pretty busy for a while.’’
David Beard said the fire was unlike any other bush or grass fire the group had encountered, with fine particles of coal dust spotting over long distances.
‘‘It’s a fire that’s very difficult to put out, just smolderin’ in the cold,’’ he said.
‘‘You’ll be working on a spot fire, standing there and fire starts between your legs, that’s how difficult it was.’’
The fire crews worked two hours at a time, then an hour’s rest, to limit their exposure to harmful carbon monoxide.
Mr Hilder said gas masks were worn but there was still exposure to the toxic gas.
‘‘When there is fire, it’s not as bad. It’s when you get smoldering coal, it produces a lot of carbon monoxide.
‘‘Especially on the Tuesday, we got a fair bit of smoke inhalation, but we rested up and got checked by the nurses and were right to go.’’
Prevailing winds have been blowing the coal mine smoke and smell over the town of Morwell.
Mr Hilder said despite the dark atmosphere around town, the locals provided a warm welcome.
‘‘It was really good, even the members of the community were waving out and yelling out, saying ‘geez you’ve come a long way’ and all that.’’
Joining the fire fight were about 120 firefighters, including MFB and CFA permanent staff, Tasmania foam trucks, NSW and ACT brigades and Tullamarine aviation brigade.
About 70 service workers were also on site, catering and caring for the crews.
On Friday, Victoria’s chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester advised people aged over 65, pre-school aged children, pregnant women and anyone with a pre-existing heart or lung conditions living or working in Morwell South to consider temporary relocation because of the fire.
‘‘There’s certain areas in the mine they’re concentrating on .
Mr Hilder said the reports that the fire might have been the result of an arsonist were ‘‘pretty sad’’.
‘‘It’s definitely not good down there in the conditions .
Dozens of Euroa and district residents have gathered outside Euroa’s Amaroo aged-care facility for a groundbreaking ceremony.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
Leitchville-Gunbower claimed honours in its A grade showdown against Lockington-Bamawm United yesterday, 53-31.
Hundreds rose early for Dawn Services across the district on Saturday to commemorate 100 years since the Gallipoli landings.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash could not confirm when or if Deniliquin’s health classification would be changed when in town a little more than a week ago.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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