Fire causes toxic fumes at factory

CFA took hours to contain incident

SUIT UP: Firefighters needed to use gas suits and breathing apparatus to tackle a toxic chemical fire at Australian Country Spinners. PHOTO: Marc Bongers

TOXIC fumes filled the air inside an Australian Country Spinners (ASC) storeroom on Wednesday, after a volatile chemical caught fire.

Country Fire Authority hazmat experts from across the North East rushed to the Wangaratta factory just after 5pm to contain the chemical reaction, after an ASC employee first spotted smoke coming from the pallet of chemicals.

Wangaratta Fire Brigade senior station officer, Carl Stibilj, said it took about 35 personnel using gas suits and breathing apparatus until 7.45pm to contain the chemical fire, but they completed the job without any toxic fumes escaping the storeroom.

“Because it hadn’t fully reacted, they didn’t need to evacuate anyone at that time,” he said.

“It was a long, arduous process.”

The chemical, Thiourea Dioxide, is a solid but flammable chemical that is a risk of catching fire if exposed to moisture.

“It is unstable and is liable to spontaneous combustion, so it is a fairly volatile chemical,” Mr Stibilj said.

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