Chemicals fire up hazard
A Harvey fire brigade has warned landholders to be responsible when conducting burn-offs after flames escaped a private burn, causing a chemical fire and a Hazmat response near the town.
Fire crews were called out to a “scrub fire” near the corner of Herbert Road and Seventh Street at 1.14pm on Wednesday.
The blaze, on a farm property, is believed to have started when a private burn got out of control.
This situation rapidly changed when crews arrived to discover two metal drums filled with unknown chemicals caught in the blaze.
Harvey Volunteer Fire and Rescue captain Scott Britza said the team responded quickly to the change of events.
“When we can’t identify what a substance is we declare it a Hazmat fire immediately,” he said.
“We have to treat it as the worst case scenario, when the smoke can drift towards town.”
Not all members of the fire crew had enough of the specialised training required to fight a chemical blaze, forcing the brigade to call for back up.
Crews from Brunswick Fire and Rescue Service, Harvey Hills Bush Fire Brigade, Cookernup Bush Fire and Bunbury DFES Fire Brigade attended the labour-intensive fire.
Hazmat suits require two people to help put them on over the top of the standard breathing apparatus worn in intense fires.
The Hazmat-trained fireys worked in teams of two, with a third crew member in an identified “Green Zone” to hand any necessary equipment to the crew.
The remaining firefighters contacted authorities via radio to identify the chemicals by reading out the codes listed on the drums.
All the while, firefighters fought back flames from the out-of-control burn-off.
“Luckily, we contained the fire on the day,” Capt. Britza said, calling on people to be responsible when conducting burn-offs on their property.
“Make sure you’re burning in the correct period and make sure you can handle what you’ve decided to burn.” he said.
“Don’t burn anything so big that a regular garden hose couldn’t bring under control.
“Most importantly, don’t leave a burn off unattended. If you can’t stick around until it’s gone out, do it another day.”
Identification of the chemicals in the drums and the full cause of the fire are yet to be determined.
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