Saturday, 8th December, 2018
By Myles Burt
A hay-laden semi-trailer erupted in flames on the Barrier Highway yesterday, bringing traffic to a halt about 15 kilometres southwest of Cockburn.
Broken Hill fire crews combined with South Australian Country Fire Services to battle the raging blaze that ignited about 9am.
Police said the driver, who was the sole occupant of the truck, was not injured, but the trailer carrying hay and the prime mover were destroyed.
Fire crews ferried water from Cockburn, with two trucks transporting water while one fire truck was constantly replenished to fight the fire.
A front-end loader was later called to remove and disperse the hay from the semi-trailer so fire crews could better extinguish the threat.
Traffic was halted on the Barrier Highway for two hours until a single lane could be cleared for public use.
Fire crews and police were on the highway for most of the day because it was a difficult fire to douse, according to Station Officer Dean Scifleet.
“Basically you’ve got to pull it all apart,” he said.
“As you can imagine, it’s all compressed inside.
“If you get a fire on top once it burns through, the outer layer just smoulders underneath, and that can reignite at any time.
“So they’ve physically got to pull it all apart, damp it down and turn it all over again and make sure it’s out.
“It’s quite arduous work.”
The fire was incredibly intense, melting away the truck until only a bull bar was left remaining.
However, the ashy heap filled with smouldering hay still posed a significant problem.
“It’s usually what happens with hay fire, you get a very intense fire initially and then it’ll die down,” SO Scifleet said.
“But you get those little hidden pockets and the worst thing is the hay heats up inside of it and you’ll have hidden fires without even knowing it.
“So you could put out the external fire, walk way and several hours later or even the next day you’ve got another fire occurring.”
SO Scifleet encourages truck drivers to cover and check their loads regularly, along with making sure no sparks are coming from the truck’s exhaust.
SO Scifleet commended local firefighters on their tremendous efforts in yesterday’s operation under hot and difficult conditions.