Fires flare in three silo spots
THE entire Riverina Stock Feeds mill in Casino had to be shut down yesterday after three separate fires ignited in and around a highly-combustible silo.
About 8am an employee noticed smoke issuing from one of the 38 silos at the mill.
NSW Fire and Rescue crews from Casino and Lismore rushed to the site on Reynolds Rd and 20 employees were immediately evacuated.
Rural Fire Service crews from Sextonville and Bentley also went to the fire scene.
NSW Fire and Rescue Northern Rivers duty commander Inspector Jeff Roche said there were three fire sources, one on a conveyor belt, another in a grain hopper and a third in a silo.
The silo contained two tonnes of chicken pellets, some of which was smouldering.
After midday the fire fighters managed to extinguish the fire in the hopper and were working on the conveyor belt, Mr Roche said. The silo was no longer posing a threat at that stage, he added.
The NSW Fire and Rescue helicopter and fire experts from Sydney were on stand-by throughout the ordeal.
Mr Roche said putting out the fire required "strategic planning" because of the possibility of a dust explosion.
"If the ignition source is provided, a particle ignites and pre-heats and each of the particles ahead of it ignite," he said.
"It all happens in a second; that's why it can explode.
"As soon as we open up the vents, that introduces air and that agitates the particles and increases the possibility of a dust explosion."
In 2007, sparks from a welding torch caused a similar situation where stockfeed began to smoulder inside one of the Riverina Stockfeed silos.