FACTORY FIRE: An overnight fire in one of the boilers at the Maryborough Sugar Mill has brought the factory to a halt for the next three days while repairs are carried out.
FACTORY FIRE: An overnight fire in one of the boilers at the Maryborough Sugar Mill has brought the factory to a halt for the next three days while repairs are carried out. Alistair Brightman

Sugar mill fire closes M'boro factory for repairs

A DIESEL fire, that ripped through part of the Maryborough Sugar Factory, has left the mill out of operation for the next three days.

Two fire crews were first called to the factory blaze about 10.54pm Sunday night.

About 13 workers on the site at the time were evacuated while the diesel and power supply to the boiler was isolated.

Upon arrival, crews discovered a fuel fire running down the site's 30m-tall boiler.

An additional five crews from across Maryborough and Craignish were called to the scene for backup.

The blaze, which had spread through three levels of gantries, was extinguished by midnight.

Inspector for North Coast Region John Pappas said the crews faced a "dynamic and difficult fire to deal with".

"Running fuel fires are very difficult to contain because it can be moving towards you or away from you," he said.

"Plus the vertical challenges of the fire through three levels of gantries."

Insp Pappas said the quick-thinking of on-site management helped the crews control the situation.

"Our number one priority when we arrive on the scene is rescue and life," Insp Pappas said.

"The combination of quick-thinking from on-site management and staff to account for all persons and safely evacuate everyone made the firefighters's job a lot easier.

"The training and framework management had in place to deal with these situations greatly assisted us with the job."

Yesterday, inspectors determined there was no significant structural damage to the boiler or surrounding mill, aside from damage to the boiler's electrical wiring.

MSF Sugar's general manager Maryborough Stewart Norton said the combined damage to the lighting and control wiring, air rams and air lines rendered the boiler inoperable until repair.

"We estimate that it will now take three days to complete our assessment and to strip out and replace all of the materials that have been burnt," Mr Norton said.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland released the boiler back to MSF Sugar at 10.15am.

Mr Norton praised the quick actions of the shift supervisor who managed the response to the emergency.

"While we practice emergency drills as part of our operation, real life situations are the ultimate test," he said.

"Without the quick actions of our shift supervisor overnight, the end result could have been very different."

The incident is not expected to have an impact on the mill's overall crush.


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