SYDNEY (AFX-ASIA) – A fuel tank explosion triggered a fire and forced large-scale evacuations at an industrial complex in Port Kembla, south of Sydney, with firefighters struggling to contain the blaze, officials said.
Firefighters said the tank at Port Kembla, containing seven million liters of ethanol, exploded Tuesday morning with a blast that was heard 25 kilometres away.
Television footage showed flames about 50 meters high, billowing thick black smoke.
Companies with facilities in the area include BHP Billition Ltd and Bluescope Steel.
In a statement to the exchange, Bluescope Steel, which used to be known as BHP Steel said it has temporarily evacuated its coke ovens in light of the incident at a property adjacent to its steelworks.
“There is no significant impact on Bluescope Steel’s operation,” the company said, adding it will closely monitor the situation and provide updates to the market as and when needed.
One man was taken to hospital suffering minor burns and ambulance officer Ian Johns said it was “unbelievable” more people were not injured.
The cause of the fire was not known.
New South Wales Fire Brigades spokesman Robert Cormerford said emergency services feared the fire could spread to nearby tanks containing ethanol, marine fuel and crude oil.
He said firefighters were letting the fire burn itself out and concentrating on stopping it from reaching the other tanks.
Port authorities said a 500-meter radius around the fire had been evacuated in case of further explosions and ships anchored in the port were on standby to move if the situation worsened.