Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fuel tanker blaze all in a day's work for Tatura brigade

Tatura's Country Fire Authority brigade ensured a fire that broke out on a fuel tanker did not get out of control.

ELAINE COONEY June 30, 2014 3:07am

Tatura firefigher Colin Magnay, brigade captain Graeme Dean and secretary Bill Stockdale were part of the crew to combat a fuel tanker fire last week.

‘‘You don’t get time to feel nervous, but we were concerned.’’

Tatura firefigher Colin Magnay said his crew was too focused on members’ safety to feel butterflies when extinguishing a fuel tanker blaze on Wednesday.

A fuel tanker carrying 57000 litres of fuel caught fire at the intersection of Tatura-Murchison and Toolamba-Rushworth Rds at about 5.40am.

Mr Magnay said the firefighters felt 50m was a safe distance to attack the fire because the tanker was not engulfed.

‘‘If it exploded, a safe distance would be a kilometre,’’ he said.

He said fuel tanks needed plenty of heat before an explosion occurred.

‘‘There was a fair bit of flame, but it was not displaying that it was under pressure,’’ he said.

Tatura fire brigade secretary Bill Stockdale said when the crew arrived at about 5.50am, the flames were as high as the tank between the two tankers, but came from underneath the truck.

Captain Graeme Dean praised the efforts of the Tatura driver who used four handheld fire extinguishers on the blaze before the crew arrived.

‘‘He slowed it down,’’ he said. ‘‘The driver really did the right thing, he moved the truck off the main road onto the side road.

‘‘He was on the phone to triple zero with one hand and had the extinguisher in the other.’’

Mr Dean said the driver remained calm.

Mr Magnay said if the fire happened five minutes later it would have been in the centre of town, which would have raised a whole range of new risks.

The first page the Tatura firies received at 5.40am stated there was a truck fire, which could have been anything from an articulated truck to a semi-trailer.

‘‘The second page came as we were getting our gear on,’’ Mr Dean said.

It read that it was a B-double fuel tanker.

Mr Stockdale said the crew was fortunate to receive the update before attending the fire so members could prepare for a possible explosion.

The crew spent 10 minutes extinguishing the blaze, but did not leave the station until 8.30am because they needed to wash and replace the hoses and fill the tanks so the vehicles were ready for the next callout.

Mr Dean went back home to get his children ready for school.

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