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Truck blaze

Saturday, 19th May, 2018

A front-end loader lifts hay off the smouldering truck while firefighters douse it. PICTURE: Michael Murphy A front-end loader lifts hay off the smouldering truck while firefighters douse it. PICTURE: Michael Murphy

By Kara de Groot

Residents of Burke and Creedon streets were awoken just before midnight on Thursday night by the sound of an explosion.

A B-double truck carrying hay from Gladstone, South Australia, through Broken Hill had caught alight with a bang at the corner of the two streets, requiring both fire stations to respond.

The driver of the truck, a 34-year-old Broken Hill man, was unharmed.

“It was a massive explosion and very frightening actually,” said Denise McInerney, whose house was directly in front of the fire.

“I flew out of bed and the truck was fully alight, you could feel the heat from my doorstep,” she said.

“The flames went right up to the top of the telephone poles and smoke was pouring off, the truck melted like it was a block of chocolate.

“My neighbour, Chris, said the driver was banging on his door about 15 minutes before the explosion because the truck caught alight before then.

“He told Chris he’d blown a tyre in Wills Street, and as he’d rounded a corner he’d noticed flames out the back because sparks from the tyre had lit the hay.”

Mrs McInerney said the firefighters and police officers on the scene were “absolutely brilliant.”

“They were straight on the job and made sure everyone was safe, they worked most of the night,” she said.

It took fire crews about five hours to put out the blaze, using a combination of foam and water. 

Station Officer John Dunn said there was no danger to any houses at the time, and the last trailer-load of hay was able to be saved.

“Fire crews from our station as well as from Broken Hill South attended the scene, which appears to have been caused by a mechanical failure from the truck itself which caused the hay to catch fire,” he said.

“The crews worked very effectively and were able to stop the spread of the fire to the last trailer through some impressive firefighting, and were able to save the hay there.

“Police assisted in keeping everybody at a safe distance allowing fire crews to respond effectively, it always depends on the fire because there are risks with fuel and loads.”

Deb Coady lives just around the corner from where the fire took place, and said the explosion woke her and her family up.

“As we drove around the corner we could see all the smoke, I was a bit horrified,” she said.

“It was pretty well engulfed when we got there just a few minutes after the noise, I was worried about the driver at first but was told he’d got out fine.

“It was all firing off and there were embers everywhere, it took over the truck so quickly and by the time we got there the cabin was gone, there was just nothing on top and we only live around the corner.”

Police Inspector Yvette Smith said forensics officers were investigating the scene yesterday, but at this stage it’s not known when a full report into the event will be complete.

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