Authorities monitor hot spots

HOT spots were reported in both Loy Yang and the Hazelwood mines earlier this week.

Three small smouldering coal fires were identified in the Loy Yang coal mine about 1.30pm on Tuesday, while CFA said it was aware of a hot spot in the Hazelwood mine since Monday.

A small building fire at the Hazelwood Power Station also occurred on Tuesday afternoon in the ‘crusher house’ in a welding incident unrelated to fire conditions.

AGL Loy Yang general manager Steve Rieniets said staff and CFA crews worked for several hours to get on top of the smouldering hot spots quickly.

He said CFA left the scene about 3pm, handing the fire fight back to AGL’s resources.

“Since then we’ve been monitoring the area using water and compressed air foam from a purpose built fire truck (for coal mine fires) as well as thermal cameras to detect any heat,” Mr Rieniets said.

He said the hot spots occurred in an area of coal excavation well away from the operating area of the mine.

“We’re confident we have a fire preparedness and management plan to allow us to manage fire risk over the summer. It was a bad day, but we got on top of it quickly,” he said.

CFA District 27 operations manager Bill Johnstone said the hot spot in the Hazelwood mine was not a fire and the situation was “business as usual”.

“We’ve been working directly with GDF SUEZ and we’re confident with the arrangements in place,” Mr Johnstone said.

Hazelwood operator GDF SUEZ spokesman Trevor Rowe said the hot spot occurred in the south eastern batters of the mine, well away from the operating coal faces.

“It’s the nature of brown coal. You do find these things from time to time and you manage them,” Mr Rowe said.