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Factory Fire, Picton

Published: 11th April 2006

Picton firefighters were confronted with their second factory fire in four days when fires broke out in a food processing plant in Picton on the morning of 10 April 2006. Fifteen firefighters from the Picton and Camden brigades and Rural Fire Service crews responded to a triple zero call received by the NSW Fire Brigades shortly before 9 am.

The Picton brigade was on the scene within seven minutes and found a series of small fires burning in and around an industrial oven and extraction unit. The fire involved grain dusts and procedures were put in place to avoid a dust explosion. As a precaution, the factory was evacuated.

Over the next six hours firefighters wearing air cylinders worked in rotation to painstakingly dismantle plant and equipment to get at several pockets of fire. Under the advice of factory management, fire crews turned off the heat source and allowed the oven to cool naturally. The fire had spread from the oven through extraction ducting to involve material in two hoppers within the factory. Once access was gained to the smouldering seats of fire firefighters had to gently apply water to the burning material so as not to disturb the dust.

The NSW Fire Brigades Hazardous Materials Unit provided technical support and advice. Thermal imaging technology was used to detect pockets of fire obscured by plant and machinery and ensure they were exinguished.

The fire damaged the oven and extraction unit. There were no injuries. Operations finished at around 3 pm and the cause of the fire is being investigated.