No one hurt in Bunbury Port Blaze

Shannon VerhagenBunbury Herald
Firefighters attending the blaze in a mulch pile at Bunbury Port.
Camera IconFirefighters attending the blaze in a mulch pile at Bunbury Port. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

An oil leak is suspected to be the cause of a blaze at Bunbury Port on Sunday night which destroyed a loader and ceased operations for almost seven hours.

About 8.30pm, a rubber-tyred chip dozer, working atop one of the port’s woodchip stockpiles, caught fire in the engine compartment, causing oil to spill onto the woodchips beneath it and catch fire.

The operator of the machine was able to exit safely and raise the alarm, but the dozer was destroyed and had to be towed from the scene.

Smoke billowed as a number of career and volunteer firefighting brigades battled the blaze, facing wind gusts of up to 46km/h throughout the night.

A blaze began at the Bunbury Port on Sunday night.
Camera IconA blaze began at the Bunbury Port on Sunday night. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

It was the most significant fire at the wood chipping operation in more than three decades, according to WAPRES chief executive officer Ian Telfer and the first resulting in the loss of a vehicle.

It is unusual, I think it’s only happened once in the past 44 years.

Ian Telfer

Mr Telfer said an internal investigation was being held on the dozer in question but the remainder of the machines had passed safety inspections yesterday.

Mr Telfer said safety was “paramount” and there were hoses and water on site in case of a fire and all of the machines were fitted with fire suppression systems.

“If a machine catches fire normally it can be suppressed immediately,” he said.

But despite the suppression system being engaged during the incident, the fire on Sunday night spread too quickly.

Mr Telfer said the combined effort between emergency services and WAPRES’s supression team meant catastrophe had been averted and he thanked firefighters for their efforts.

I’m very pleased on two parts. Firstly that no one was hurt – that was my main concern – and secondly the response from emergency services and our suppression team. It was a great effort and meant we were on top of it very quickly and able to resume operations a lot sooner than I anticipated.

Ian Telfer

The fire was contained by 11pm and operations resumed about 3am yesterday, with a replacement dozer on site.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services issued an “All Clear” at 10.28am yesterday.

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