Rural Fire Service (RFS) members arrived at the scene of a fire at a waste management facility on Turner’s Lane around 5:30pm on Saturday, working through the night with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) to get the fire under control.

Les Carr of the Coota Town Brigade said, “When we arrived, it was well and truly out of control. There was approximately 200 tonnes of mattresses and tyres alight.

“We had quite a number of RFS trucks, we had a crew from Harden, Cowra, Gundagai, two local trucks out of Wagga and out of Temora. We had ambos, police were there, Council were running water for us.

It appears that early investigations have found that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion.

“We smothered it, it’s been covered in soil. It was caused by combustion, same as a haystack fire so it’s very hard to stop.”

The process for spontaneous combustion can happen quickly without any warning sign and spread quickly. In terms of a hay fire, when hay is harvested or collected, there may be moisture present. This moisture may be present inside the hay, or on the outside. Over time, as the hay comes into contact with oxygen, this moisture can transfer into heat.

Haystacks can also catch alight due to sparks from machinery, or from hot exhausts or burning material like cigarettes.

Les said, “We didn’t have that much wind; we were saved by the wind because if the wind was any stronger, we probably would have had a grassfire. It was very hot, well over 1000 degrees.

“There will be an investigation.”

Les thanked all who attended. “Thanks to all the services that attended. The RFS, ambos, police, Council, SES, we had all services there.”

Powerlines were damaged by the fire, cutting connection to around 75 nearby properties which have since been restored.

Photos by Jeff Baz and Gil Kelly.

More to come.