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 .
Shepparton’s Declo Bisimwa firmly believes education is the key to a better life.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Garners Boxing Gym in Echuca is encouraging young people to get active with weekly boxing/cardio classes.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.