18/10/10 - Tumut silo fire

Published: 18th October 2010

At 1808hrs on Monday 18 October 2010,firefighters responded to reports of a large explosion within a complex of silos at the Carter Holt Harvey Pine Panel Factory in Jepsen Avenue at Tumut. Crews from Tumut, Turvey Park, Batlow, Gundagai, Wagga Wagga Hazmat and RFS crews attended the incident. Tumut crew initially reported volumes of dark smoke issuing from a large 15m high by 5m diameter silo. The silo contained woodchip and woodchip dust and was located within a cluster of two other silos which were also involved in fire. An exclusion zone was established and the situation was brought under control in just over an hour and a half by the use of several large hose lines, a large ground monitor and an installed drencher system. Fortunately several explosion hatches had blown out quickly relieving any major pressure build up within the silos. At 0123 the Stop message was sent, declaring the area safe and the site was handed back over to the owners. The silos, machinery and conveyor belts on the gantry sustained damage during the incident. The incident highlighted the effectiveness of correctly operating installed fire protection systems such as explosion hatches and drencher systems which greatly increased safety and reduced property losses.