A Victorian open-cut mine fire is finally out 45 days after a bushfire spread into the mine, igniting brown coal and covering Morwell in smoke.
A marathon Victorian coal mine blaze has finally been extinguished, 45 days after a bushfire ignited brown coal inside the mine.
But while the fire itself is out, firefighters will remain on the scene to monitor hot spots, Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said.
The fire has raged since February 9 when a bushfire that began in nearby farming country spread into the open-cut mine, which feeds the Hazelwood power station.
The nearby town of Morwell was choked with acrid smoke for weeks as the fire burned on a disused batter at the north end of the mine, sparking health concerns and forcing some residents to leave.
Mr Lapsley said there is no danger that the fire will spread further or will cause any further problems in Morwell.
“It’s been a huge event,” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s been a huge to Morwell and we always say that the biggest concern was the impact on the Morwell community, but we certainly had some issues with the complexity about how we have had to manage firefighters and the mine’s people over that period.
“It has been a very complex fire, something the world has watched and something that has challenged us, but we have come through.
“We said that we would put this fire out and we have been successful in achieving that.”
Firefighters will remain to tend to hot spots, he said.
“There will be continued works with CFA and the mine to make sure that there are no other hot spots that might occur over the next period,” Mr Lapsley said.
At its height, crews from 65 fire trucks were deployed to fight the blaze near Morwell, 140km south-east of Melbourne.
Crews from Queensland, NSW, the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania fought alongside CFA and Hazelwood mine fire crews.
All interstate crews have returned home.
Mr Lapsley said the CFA’s focus would now turn to a state government-appointed board of inquiry into the response to the mine fire, including the firefighting systems maintained by the mine’s owner GDF Suez.