Hunter New England - Kooragang Island Kooragang Island Subterranean Fire


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Picture of Drew Varnum
Drew Varnum Executive Director 02 4908 4999

Public Works Advisory’s fire-fighting skills were called on recently when Fire and Rescue NSW asked for help putting out an underground blaze near Newcastle.

University students spotted flames, smoke and glowing material through cracks in the ground as they counted the local frog population at a 15 hectare industrial site on Kooragang Island.

To make matters worse it was located next to some environmentally sensitive areas. A fire of this complexity required some innovative cross-agency solutions. PWA acted as an impartial technical advisor, co-ordinating multiple stakeholders to devise the best ways to extinguish the fire using the equipment available. The team also secured support services and co-ordinated the civil works.

Extinguishing the fire took four weeks. Hot spots were found via overhead thermal imagery which allowed targeted use of fire fighting equipment. Because of the difficulties involved, every method had to be tested in a trial environment before use and the NSW EPA was engaged to assess and manage the risks.

This was a unique project which required a true collaboration across government and it's a great example of making it happen.

Koorangang Island Subterranean Fire 1
Koorangang Island Subterranean Fire 2