Communication flare-up at Yallourn open cut

A COMMUNICATION “gap” before Tuesday’s hot spot flare-up in the Yallourn open cut should be a further lesson in public engagement, according to Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner.

The Country Fire Authority was called to the blaze in a disused section of the mine about 7.30am Tuesday, after a hot spot detected the day before ignited, sending up a visible column of smoke.

The CFA was initially informed of the hot spot by Yallourn personnel Monday afternoon, however the public was not informed until 9.19am the following morning via an emergency warning alert.

Emergency Management Com missioner Craig Lapsley ack nowledged the “gap” between the hot spot’s identification and the Tuesday morning alert was of some concern to community members.

“Since the Hazelwood fire last year, it’s pretty evident that any potential for fire in the mines can cause great concern. The Latrobe Valley community is very sensitive now as a result and needs to be more attuned to the information flow in the early stages,” Mr Lapsley said.

“I think what we’ve got to do is get smart in the way we use social media in bringing the community in on what is a hot spot and what is fire.”

Yallourn’s onsite fire crews monitored the hot spot in difficult terrain over night Monday, before using tankers, fixed sprays and dozers to douse the fire with water, significantly reducing the smoke on Tuesday.

The fire was declared safe later that morning.

“An investigation into how the fire began will be conducted, however early investigations indicate it may have been caused by coal overheating,” an EnergyAustralia spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile Mr Lapsley said Valley-based CFA officers were yesterday assessing the authority’s response to the initial hotspot notification.

“There’s nothing at the moment to suggest we have done that dramatically wrong, (those officers) are in best position to identify if there something that didn’t work as good as it could,” he said.