Cobar underground fire leaves no injury

Damage to the burnt guards and bonnet. Image: NSW Resources Regulator

An agitator truck has caught fire in a Cobar underground mine in New South Wales, causing 19 workers to retreat to refuge chambers while the fire was brought under control.

The truck’s fuel tank was punctured, allowing diesel fuel to escape when it was being driven down the decline.

Workers reportedly heard three explosions, which may relate to the three hydraulic accumulators on the truck, the New South Wales Resources Regulator reported of the April 13 event.

The fire spread quickly with the addition of non-metallic engine covers and guards to the fuel load, leading to several components exploding as the fire took hold.

It is believed that a melted water line doused the fire. Services installed in the decline were damaged by the fire. The operator managed to escape from the truck without injury.

The truck contained substantial non-metallic, non-fire resistant materials adjacent to the engine bay, in sound suppression materials and in the operator cabin, according to the regulator.

Its fire suppression system was not capable of putting out the fire as it’s only targeting hot surface ignition in the engine bay.

Hand-held extinguishers on the machine were also not readily accessible to the operator from the cabin or as they dismounted the vehicle.