NSW RFS fears Blue Mountains bushfire could hit power station, coal mine


December 17, 2019 10:39:09

There are fears a “mega fire” at Gospers Mountain could tear through a coal mine and a major power station north west of Sydney this week, as temperatures soar to 46 degrees Celsius.

  • NSW is expected to swelter through a heatwave on Thursday and Saturday
  • That is bad news for fire crews battling the massive Gospers Mountain blaze
  • It is threatening a power station that supplies 10 per cent of the state’s electricity

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers managed to protect the Mount Piper Power Station, Springvale Coal Mine and the abandoned Wallerawang coal mines near Lithgow as embers rained down on them last night.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said crews remained on site to put out any embers that got into coal or vegetation.

“A lot of crews were deployed near that power station just to make sure the fire did not get into the coal,” he said.

“We will have crews there today monitoring that condition just to make sure we do not have any problem fire starting.

“The last thing we need is something like that going.”

The Mount Piper Power Station generates around 10 per cent of the state’s electricity and there is concern the fire could threaten power supplies in the region.

The Springvale coal mine has been closed since Thursday last week due to the risk of fire but Centennial Coal, which owns the mine, said the facility’s stockpiles of coal were well protected behind containment lines.

“We are well prepared and well supported by the RFS and Fire and Rescue,” spokeswoman Katie Brassil said.

“We lost power to the mine last night which mans there has obviously been some damage to infrastructure.”

Ms Brassil said the facility had been forced to close, in part, because smoke had been sucked deep into the mine through the ventilation shafts.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific warned that if the fire took hold in the coal stockpiles it could burn for weeks and emit toxic fumes that would aggravate air pollution across Sydney and NSW.

The last time a coal mine fire took hold was in 2014 at the Hazelwood coal mine in Victoria.

Spokesman Jamie Hanson said that fire burned for 45 days and produced toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.

The RFS is bracing for a heatwave and strong winds that are expected to sweep through NSW on Thursday and Saturday.

Very hot and dry conditions and an elevated fire danger are being forecast for parts of Sydney.

Penrith is expected to be one of the hottest parts of the state with 44C forecast for Thursday and up to 46C predicted on Saturday.

Lithgow, where the Gospers Mountain blaze is burning, is predicted to reach 37C on Thursday and 39C on Saturday and parts of far western and southern NSW will reach well into the mid-40s.

The Gospers Mountain fire has already burnt through almost 400,000 hectares in multiple directions, and the RFS said it was likely to burn for “some weeks”.






First posted

December 17, 2019 10:38:07

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