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02/11/10 - Controlled flare burn causes alarm across Sydney

Published: 2nd November 2010

At around 1038 this morning the NSWFB took the first of many Triple Zero calls from locations across Sydney reporting fires at various locations. The NSWFB processed over fifty Triple Zero calls and Sydney Radio stations were inundated by concerned members of the public reporting what appeared to be serious fires. Fourteen fire trucks responded to seven locations including the University of NSW, Hay Street at Broadway, reports of a boat fire on Botany Bay and other locations in the Port Botany area. On each occasion it was confirmed that there was no fire. Concerned callers were in fact seeing optical illusions caused by a large controlled burn off of released gas from a chemical plant in the Banksmeadow area some eight kilometres to the south east of central Sydney. The huge flame was accompanied by palls of thick black smoke. Depending on where observers stood, even up to 20 kilometres away at North Ryde, the large controlled flare gave the impression from some locations that serious structure fires were occurring. The gas burn off resulted from the operation of safety systems within the chemical plant designed to release any sudden build up of gas pressure within the system. The burn off lasted approximately 20 minutes.