Man hurt in blast that starts bushfires

Man hurt in blast that starts bushfires

08 February 2010

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Australia —  AT LEAST one man has been injured and authorities have issued bushfire warnings following a series of explosions east of Perth.

Police said the explosions occurred at a property near the Great Eastern Highway at Hovea, about 40km east of Perth, shortly before 4pm (WST).

They appear to have been triggered by a single explosion in a shed on the property, believed to have been used as a storage shed for a demolition agent, a police spokesman said.

He said the fire had apparently spread to at least two large nearby sheds and to bushland beyond the property.

A man was taken to Royal Perth Hospital after being struck by shrapnel from an exploding drum, the spokesman said.

He could not confirm reports by the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) that the man had been seriously injured and that at least one other person had been hurt in the explosion.

“The man has shrapnel in his left shoulder and abdomen; they are not being described as life-threatening injuries,” the police spokesman said.

FESA issued a bushfire warning for people in or near Hovea, where several fires were sparked by the explosions and blazing sheds.

Fire crews were on the scene and three water-carrying helicopters have been mobilised to assist ground crews.

People living in the area were warned to close all doors and windows, turn off evaporative air conditioners but keep water running through the system if possible., a product of the China-based Expansive Chemical Co, is advertised as an alternative to explosives for concrete demolition, rock breaking and quarrying.

When mixed with water and poured into the holes, it expands with force, the company’s website says.

Residents in the area told local radio that heavy traffic was building up on the Great Eastern Highway after roadblocks were set up in the vicinity of the fires.

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