News & Media

Hazelwood - ‘Old Faithful’ Q&A

By: CFA Media

Category: Incidents - Vehicle / Rescue / Hazmat, Other

  12.05 PM 19 March, 2014


Location: District 10 News, General

Views: 5259

Fire services are preparing to attack a long running underground fire in the northern batters known as the ‘Old Faithful’, which has been smouldering in an un-used section of the mine for several years.

What is Old Faithful?
Fire services are preparing to attack a long running underground fire in the northern batters known as the ‘Old Faithful’, which has been smouldering in an un-used section of the mine for several years.

This fire does not currently pose any risk to the community or surrounding infrastructure and up until now it has been effectively controlled and managed by the mine staff by capping it with clay to smother it from oxygen.

Fire services are taking advantage of the firefighting crews, aircraft, trucks and technology currently on the ground in the mine to put this fire out.

How old is the fire at Old Faithful?
We understand that the fire has been burning for several years, but it’s difficult to tell when the fire started.

What will fire crews be doing to deal with Old Faithful?
Crews will be using excavators and specialist firefighting equipment to remove the clay capping and dig out the hot spot which is located in the northern batters.

Our strategy is to slowly open this cap to investigate the fire. If necessary it could be covered back up at any time.

To put this fire out once and for all would be a significant win for our crews who have been working tirelessly over the past five weeks to bring the mine fire under control and reduce smoke over the Morwell community.

How long will it take to deal with Old Faithful?
This work will begin Thursday morning and will probably take a few days. If weather conditions are not favourable this timeline may be delayed.

Is the fire at Old Faithful a risk to the Morwell community?
While the Old Faithful fire does not currently pose any risk to the community or surrounding infrastructure, in the long term there is a risk that this fire could grow. This fire also occasionally releases a small amount of smoke, which could get worse over time.

Is tackling the Old Faithful fire a risk to the Morwell community?
While fire services are not anticipating that the community will be significantly impacted by ash or smoke as a result of work on Old Faithful, it is likely community members will see some smoke and we are encouraging people to stay aware of the current conditions.

As part of our firefighting strategy, we will begin tackling this blaze when the winds are favourable to minimise any potential smoke impacts on the Morwell community.

If necessary the fire can be covered back up at any time.

What are we asking of the community?
People can stay informed via the EPA website or by calling 1300 372 842, or by visiting the Community Information and Recovery Centre in Morwell. 

Should people wait before beginning to clean up their house?
While tomorrow’s firefight is unlikely to cause any additional smoke for the Morwell community, people should stay aware of changing conditions via the EPA website or by calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPAVIC)

The Morwell community advisory group, made up of a cross section of the Morwell community and including community leaders, want fire services to deal with this fire now. In the long run it will be much better for the community as it will improve the air quality in Morwell in the future.

Will this delay transition to recovery?
No - fire services are not anticipating that the community will be significantly impacted by ash or smoke as a result of work on Old Faithful.

Last Updated: 19 March 2014