Fire containment delayed

A FIRE at Morwell’s Energy Brix briquette factory prior to Christmas took eight hours to bring under control, almost nine years to the day after fire gutted part of the factory in 2003.

According to a firefighting union source, about 30 local career and volunteer firefighters, accompanied by six appliances and a breathing apparatus van, worked to control the night-long blaze after fire broke out at 9.30pm on 23 December.

The blaze was extinguished at 5.30am the following morning, with a clean-up continuing on-site until 7am, the source said.

According to a HRL spokesperson, the fire was in a raw coal bunker and proved no disruption to production.

Traralgon’s dedicated firefighting aerial appliance, the ‘Bronto’ ladder, equipped with a 42-metre rescue ladder and tailor made for fighting power industry fires, was unable to combat the blaze despite being delivered to Traralgon more than 12 months ago.

While ongoing staff availability issues and equipment problems have been blamed for the delay, The Express understands the issue is causing significant tensions between local firefighters and CFA management.

A major Boxing Day fire which crippled Morwell’s Energy Brix briquette factory in 2003 led the then-Labor Government’s initial push to allocate an aerial appliance to the region.

The 2003 fire destroyed two factory buildings before aerial appliances arrived from Dandenong and Burwood, which the United Firefighters Union said could have been contained to a single factory, were Traralgon CFA equipped with a functional ladder platform.