Fire crews, police and employees stand outside Hurfords Hardwood in Tuncester after it was evacuated due to smouldering sawdust.
Fire crews, police and employees stand outside Hurfords Hardwood in Tuncester after it was evacuated due to smouldering sawdust. Jay Cronan

Smoking timber forces evacuation

EMERGENCY crews were called to the Hurford Harwood Tuncester Mill yesterday morning after overheating caused one of the plant’s sawdust silos to start smouldering.

A seized, metal bearing was cited as the cause of the heat, which resulted in the plant’s 50 workers being evacuated as a safety precaution at about 8am.

“If there’s any risk, they evacuate,” plant manager Bob Engwirda said.

Despite the bearing causing minor smouldering, there was no fire within the 100-cubic metre silo, which stores sawdust created as a by-product of the mill’s timber operations.

There were no employees working in the mill when the overheating occurred, and no one was injured in the incident.

Employees waited on the front lawn of the plant yesterday morning as the emergency crews got to work inside the site.

Police and fire officials, as well as a hazmat crew attended the scene.

Inspector Mick Dempsey from Lismore Police said the event was well contained by emergency crews.

“There was concern about some minor heat in one of the silos. Apparently it was empty, but there was a little bit of sawdust in there,” he said.

“There was no burning, just heat generated from a seized bearing.”

The hazmat crew called to the plant used thermal imaging equipment to locate the source of the heat, with fire crews wetting down the sawdust before removing it from the silo.

Emergency crews took a little more than an hour to wrap up the operation.



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