After nearly a week, a problematic blaze aboard the Iron Chieftain bulk carrier at Port Kembla has been totally extinguished.
Fire-fighters spent several days battling a dramatic fire aboard the Iron Chieftain.
Flames broke out in the cargo hold of the Iron Chieftain last Monday morning as crews were unloading dolomite at Port Kembla Harbour.
Paul McGuiggan, assistant commissioner for metropolitan operations at Fire and Rescue NSW said as of Sunday afternoon, the fire was “totally extinguished”.
Speaking at 2pm, he said the past 30 hours had included constant monitoring of the temperature and also the carbon monoxide build-up in the holds.
He said following this, they were comfortable that the fire was now dormant and totally extinguished.
“We’re moving into a different phase of the operation now… We will start to move into the handover process with NSW Police, who will take charge of the vessel and commence their investigations,” he said.
“We will remain on-site for some time, just monitoring, making sure that the environment is stable for those investigators to undertake their work.
“We’ll work with the company (CSL) to ensure that they’ve got the right information, so that they can commence their salvage operations as well.”
Mr McGuiggan said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
“We have mentioned that it looks like it started in the vertical riser of where the conveyor belts are,” he said.
“So I’d imagine the investigators at this particular time will start to commence their investigations and start to look there.
“But it’s going to take I’d say a few days yet before they can actually determine what the exact cause was.”
Mr McGuiggan said there was “significant damage into that hold and along the conveyor belts”.
He said there was significant fire damage to different parts of the upward conveyor belt, and also in a number of smaller tanks that contain some marine fuels.
However, Mr McGuiggan said there was no structural damage to the ship, nor any significant damage into the “living areas” of the ship.
“So one would think that it would be salvageable,” he said.
Mr McGuiggan said tackling the blaze had been a combined effort of Fire and Rescue NSW, police, the Port Authority and other agencies.
Up to 100 fire-fighters were placed on an around-the-clock roster as the fire proved difficult to get at.
Mr McGuiggan said the only reported injury was one fire-fighter sustaining minor injuries when a hose coupling broke.
Mr McGuiggan said they had supplemented Illawarra resources with Sydney crews.
“One of the great opportunities for us is to get some learning out of this and get some experience for our crews in shipboard fire-fighting,” he said.
“This is not something that we see very often, so we’re very fortunate that we had good crews in the Illawarra that had great experience and have done exercises down here on this very scenario.
“And it’s been a great opportunity for us to bring other crews in from around the Sydney metropolitan area so that they can get experience at that.”