Progress, but mine fire problematic

Progress, but mine fire problematic

24 February 2014

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Australia — FIRE agencies have officially listed the Hernes Oak bush fire in the Latrobe Valley and the Jack River bushfire near Yarram as being under control.

Since the start of February more than 60 bushfires have started across Gippsland.

On Monday, there were three ‘going’ bushfires in the region.

Regional fire controller Bryan Russell said the three going fires in east Gippsland were of significant size.

“Firefighters are continuing to work on over 1300 square kilometres of bushfire in the Goongerah, Club Terrace and Gil Groggin areas.

“That’s an area almost twice the size of Canberra and well over half the size of metropolitan Melbourne.

“Over 600 firefighters and some 200 fire trucks continue to work on this firefighting effort.”

A large fire in the Hazelwood open cut mine near Morwell continues to burn.

Emergency services and mine management are mounting a vigorous and complex fire fight to bring this fire under control.

A number of cracks in the coal have opened up along the southern batters in the fire zone.

Incident controller Bob Barry said firefighters had been removed from that area as a precaution.

“(We) will work around any openings while we determine the best way to manage the cracks in the coal,” he said.

“The development of cracks at a coal mine is a common occurrence and treatment strategies are developed to address these.

“They are not posing a threat to the community or critical infrastructure.

“We are gaining ground on the Hazelwood fire and will keep making progress, but things come up on occasion that we will have to manage.”

Two compressed air foam units from ACT Fire and Rescue have arrived to join the Tasmanian Fire Service unit in battling the Hazelwood fire.

“The main focus on the fire fight today is the northern batters and using compressed air foam is part of that,” Mr Barry said.

“The interstate crews will be pumping this foam which has less water in it than normal fire fighting foam to blanket the fire.

“A thick layer of foam will stop it spreading and, importantly, it may reduce the amount of smoke affecting Morwell.

“This foam is useful but it won’t solve the problem it is another tactic to aid us but there is still a long way to go in this fire fight.”

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