The Masterton fire crew who managed the silo fire at Kiwi Lumber [left to right]: Tim Scott, Tony Gibbs, Chris Peterson and Garry Nielsen. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

A thermal camera dropped into a Kiwi Lumber silo on Tuesday, showed hotspots remained in wood shavings which had been smouldering since Monday morning.

Fire crews from Masterton and Carterton had remained at the wood processing plant in Waingawa overnight on Monday, and nearly 24 hours after the fire was detected, smoke was still coming from the top of the silo.

But site manager Duncan Oakley and his team monitored the silo for the rest of the day without fire service personnel on site.

Wet wood shavings were gradually fed into the plant’s boiler and Oakley expected the whole silo to be empty by yesterday.

“These things can creep up again, so it has to be empty of the whole lot. And shavings at the top can stick to it and still be smouldering.

“It can still be burning in parts even though plenty of water has gone into it.”

Masterton fire station officer Garry Nielsen managed the fire service operation with the assistance of the Carterton station.

“There have been silo explosions before created from this type of fire,” he said.

“The combination of air and fuel contained this way is a fire risk, but we are working with JNL and Kiwi Lumber to find innovative solutions to reduce risk.”

One of the Masterton crew said he came over from Upper Hutt to help put out a silo fire at Kiwi Lumber 10 years ago, and another crew member remembers a similar fire around five years ago.

Tony Gibbs assisted with the setting up of the hoses to the Type 5 fire truck which came over from Wellington on Monday with a ladder high enough to get to the top of the silo.

“The thermal camera we put into the silo shows hotspots remain in various places and there was still some smoke on Monday night and into the morning,” Gibbs said. “But most of it is not hot now.”

Fire crews did not return to the site on Tuesday afternoon and the plant was able to keep operating.



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