Posted on June 22, 2018 by Hannah Berry
The fire which broke out onboard Iron Chieftan in Port Kembla Harbour on Monday 18th June has finally been extinguished after burning for three days.
As previously reported by ARX Maritime, all 22 crew members were evacuated safely when the blaze took hold, but the ferocity of the fire lead to all port operations being temporarily suspended.
Wayne Phillips from the Fire and Rescue Service New South Wales said that initial reports that the cargo had ignited were false, as the bulker was carrying non-flammable dolomite at the time of the fire. The fire initially started on the conveyor belt and spread to rubber linings and the cargo handling system. "This has proved to be a very difficult fire for firefighters to get on top of. We've had up to 100 firefighters here at a time." He said.
Firefighters finally had a breakthrough on Thursday evening after a gruelling three days as they were successful in blanketing the hold with firefighting foam.
Agencies are now working in collaboration to put together a salvage plan for the vessel as firefighters remain at the scene to monitor hot spots and ensure the fire has been thoroughly extinguished.
The Fire and Rescue Service for New South Wales further reported that the Iron Chieftan was in no danger of breaking up and posed no threat to the environment through leakage of it’s cargo.
The majority of the fire damage was sustained by the deckhouse, but the full extent is yet to be established as firefighters as still unable to access the interior of the ship due to the heat.