Mill Fire, Inverell

Published: 6th July 2006

Just after 5 am on 6 July 2006 NSW Fire Brigades crews responded to reports of smoke issuing from a hammer mill in Inverell. On arrival, they were met by mill workers who informed the Inverell firefighters that smoke was coming from a steel container.

It was in a hammer mill where grain is crushed into meal. It was thought that grain had become stuck and caused some overheating. It was also suspected that combustion was taking place inside the vessel.

With the assistance of industry experts firefighters carried out procedures to counter the risk of a dust explosion.

Fire officers instructed the crews to put on air cylinders and to have water supplies for cooling at the ready. Police and ambulance crews stood by as a precaution.

Firefighters secured the area and, in cooperation with plant management, a thermal imaging camera was used to determine if any hot spots were still active within the container.

As a precaution, seven staff members were evacuated while fire crews in protective clothing injected Carbon Dioxide from portable extinguishers to put the fire out. Hatches were then opened and the charred contents removed. All machinery was turned off during the process and the mill was back in full production by 7.30am.

Quick action by mill staff and firefighting teams from Inverell and Glen Innes prevented prevented a more serious incident.