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 .
Firefighters are trying to put out a blaze, which has spread to two houses on Casey St in Tatura.
The Yarrawonga Pigeons scored a 20 point victory over the Myrtleford Saints at the JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga on Saturday.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
The River Rats took on Lodden Murray in a strong game on the weekend in their Regional Superleague hockey match in Bendigo fighting out a win in what new coach Chris Mathew called a great result.
ROCHESTER’S mums and bubs fitness class is only in its third week but it has already doubled its enrolment numbers, blowing organisers’ expectations out of the water.
Tongala Football Club lost to Rumbalara in the Murray Netball League on Saturday by 14 points.
Four generations of Comi girls this Mother's Day
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
DESPITE criticism from within the community over a perceived lack of use, the O’Keefe Rail Trail has enjoyed good traffic over the past couple of weeks, with more to come.
Members of a Cobram social group have encouraged women to become a part of community groups, committees and boards.
School fundraises for student with leukaemia.
ix industry and local government representatives, five water services committee members and two community members have been appointed to the new Connections Stakeholder Consultative Committee.
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