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Man hurt in mixed fuel fire

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 10:15 21/02/2013
fire
Photo: RIKKIBLOEMSAAT.COM.

EXPLOSION: A 209 litre barrel of oil and diesel exploded at the scene of a shed fire in Silverdale.

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A mushroom cloud was seen as far away as Red Beach when more than 1000 litres of oil and diesel exploded in a Silverdale industrial shed.

Around 40 firefighters from five brigades were called to the blaze at an abandoned lot on Manga Rd around 5.15pm on Monday evening.

The fire started inside a shed before soon moving on to a neighbouring property.

One 209 litre oil barrel exploded letting off a fireball just after firefighters arrived.

The burning petrol and diesel required special extinguishing techniques and the presence of the Hazardous Materials Incident Command truck and the Aerial Scope ladder.

"We extinguished it with foam because fuel burns on top of water," Silverdale chief firefighter Vaughan Mackereth says.

A man who was at the scene was taken to hospital with burns.

"It would appear at the time an employee who works for the shed owner was in the area decanting some fuel," fire investigator Mike McEnaney says.

"Indications are, for whatever reason, there was a small fire caused which resulted in a fairly substantial explosion."

Mr McEnaney says there was in excess of 1000 litres of a combination of disused diesel and oil mixed in barrels.

"There was also a quantity of refined product that had gone through the distilling process. It was useable petrol. At the time a distiller in the shed wasn't operating, it was in the middle of renovations with owners seeking compliance. The only thing that was operating was a cooling system keeping the refined fuel in a five degree Celsius temperature," he says. "At some stage that fuel had to be decanted out of the holding tank. Whether correct safety practise was being used or not, we don't know.

Something obviously went badly wrong.

"We are still investigating where it started exactly and why it occurred."

Mr McEnaney says the fire would have gone from a small fire to a decent explosion in a very short space of time.

"It looks as though the man had made some attempt to deal with the fire but it wasn't containable," he says.

Investigations are continuing.

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- Rodney Times

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