Firefighters were at the Condong Sugar Mill for almost 14 hours over two days after heat sources were detected in 700 tonnes of sugar cane mulch.
Firefighters were at the Condong Sugar Mill for almost 14 hours over two days after heat sources were detected in 700 tonnes of sugar cane mulch.

Fire fighters save sugar mill

TWEED firefighters battled a combustible situation at the Condong Sugar Mill for almost 14 hours over two days.

About 30 firefighters from the Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah fire brigades rotated shifts to contain the situation after a heat source was located inside up to 700 tonnes of sugar cane mulch being held a storage facility.

There were fears the heat source would spontaneously combust.

Firefighters were first called out to the fire about 11.30pm Thursday.

Crews worked through the night before retiring about 5am yesterday.

However, they were called back just hours later after more heat sources were detected.

The incident was finally brought under control about 3pm yesterday.

Station officer Leo Ayoub said the incident was a tough time for all involved.

“It was a prolonged incident, all up it was a very long night,” firefighter Ayoub said.

“We used thermal imaging cameras to locate the hot spots inside the mulch. It’s like hay bales, they are prone to spontaneous combustion.”

About 150 tonnes of mulch had to be removed from the storage facility to gain access to the fire.

“It was buried underneath all the mulch,” firefighter Ayoub said.

“Heavy equipment was then brought in to help remove the excess mulch so we could get to the heat source.”

Firefighter Ayoub said they constantly swapped crews to take over the job.

The HAZMAT vehicle from the Tweed Heads station was also on the scene as support.

The scene at the sugar mill was made more difficult when separate calls for assistance came in.

“We had to send crews off at times because there was a fire under a house in Murwillumbah, a motor vehicle accident and a couple of other minor calls, including a grass fire, kept us on our toes,” Fireighter Ayoub said.

Condong’s operations manager, Greg Petersen, praised the firefighters for their efforts.

“There was no damage to the sugar mill, it wasn’t a massive fire or anything but it was smouldering a bit,” Mr Petersen said.



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