Fire at timber yard could smoulder for hours, fireys warn

Update, 4.15pm: A senior firefighter said a silo fire at a Murwillumbah timber yard may take until Wednesday to fully extinguish.

Fire & Rescue Far North Coast operations manager Gary White said firefighters were continuing to smother the fire which has been going since around 9am today.

"We are still putting Class-A foam from CAFS (compressed air foam truck) on the silo fire," he said.

"Now they are taking more readings with the gas detector for carbon monoxide."

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas which can prove fatal, so crews doing this monitoring wear breathing apparatus.

Fire crews at a Murwillumbah timber yard.
Fire crews at a Murwillumbah timber yard.

Mr White said firefighters anticipated at least another 10 cubic metres of sawdust will need to be removed from the silo to ensure the fire is completely out.

"We are also liaising with the onsite personnel about the strategies for removing the smouldering product," he said.

"Spraying the mist at the top of the silo well and we are continuously checking the CO (carbon monoxide) readings for a reduction.

"We are rotating our crews through using the BA (breathing apparatus) and our Hazmat and CAFS remain at the site."

Mr White said it was likely the firefighters would need to return tomorrow to completely extinguish the fire.

"Operations will cease later on today at dusk, it depends on the readings," he said.

"We will probably be back tomorrow at this premises."

Mr White said it had been an intensive day made more efficient by extremely good inter-agency cooperation.

"This is a multi-agency operation and all the agencies worked well together," he said.

 

Update, 1.50pm: Firefighters wearing protective gear are ready to climb to the top of a smoking silo to assess the fire and finalise the extinguishing strategy using specialist detection equipment.

Fire and Rescue Far North Coast operations manager Gary White said crews would be wearing personal protective equipment including breathing apparatus.

"We are using gas detectors and a thermal image camera to monitor the smouldering fire," he said.

"We are going to access the top of the silo via its external ladder which is about 12m to the top."

Mr White said once at the top of the silo, firefighters will use a charged line to spray water down the inside of the silo to extinguish the fire.

"The plan is to put some water in a mist at the top of the silo to allow us to remove the product from the silo underneath using the auger," he said.

"The product can then be removed slowly and safely."

Mr White said there are currently three Fire and Rescue trucks on the scene with 16 firefighters.

"There are only Fire and Rescue firefighter crews here now," he said.

"Hazmat and the Compressed Air Foam (CAFs) truck from Ballina are also on scene and an ambulance crew is also here providing assistance."

 

Update, 11.15am: Rural Fire Service Far North Coast Operations manager Aaron Howard said crews were still at the scene of a structure fire at Murwillumbah.

"There appears to be a small fire at the top of a silo," he said.

"The cause of the fire is still undetermined."

Mr Howard said there were multiple firefighting crews at the scene.

"There are no persons injured or threats (from the fire) to any personnel on the site," he said.

"Fire and Rescue NSW are the lead agency at this incident."

Fire and Rescue crews have set up an exclusion zone.

They are currently in the process of cooling the silo and extinguishing the fire.

 

Original story: Emergency services are at the scene of a structure fire at a commercial timber business on Tweed Valley Way, Murwillumbah.

It is understood crews from Fire and Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service are on scene at Boral Timber, 148 Tweed Valley Way, Murwillumbah, after smoke was seen to be emitting from a silo around 9am on Tuesday February 9, 2021.

All staff are understood to have been evacuated safely from the site.

Fire and Rescue NSW Far North Coast Inspector Gary White said multiple crews are on scene after smoke was seen coming from a silo at the premises.

"We currently have two Fire and Rescue crews on scene, one from Tweed and another from Murwillumbah," he said.

"We also have the Hazardous materials crew from Tweed Heads."

Insp White said he had also called in the new compressed air foam truck from Fire and Rescue Ballina Station.

"It's a pumper which makes a really good foam which is ideal for extinguishing A-class fires such as sawdust and bushfires," he said.

"It's a good piece of kit to have hand."

According to Ambulance NSW, all staff have been evacuated and no-one requiring paramedics to treat them or to be transported to hospital.

More to come.



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