Port Kembla chemical fire: Worker burned and 50 evacuated at Bluescope’s Springhill Road facility

  • Worker injured in chemical fire
  • About 50 staff members were evacuated from the facility

One worker suffered burns and 50 others were evacuated from a large steelworks after a chemical fire broke out at the site on Tuesday morning.

More than 11 fire engines and 40 NSW firefighters raced to Bluescope’s Springhill Road facility at Port Kembla after six cylinders containing acetylene, a highly flammable gas, exploded just after 10.30am.

“The cylinders generate significant heat, with their exposure to flames posing a risk of an explosion,” NSW Fire and Rescue said on Tuesday afternoon.

‘Fire crews worked to protect a nearby building by applying water to the affected cylinders and keeping surrounding areas cool.

NSW Fire and Rescue deployed significant resources to battle the chemical fire at Bluescope's Springhill Road facility at Port Kembla on Tuesday.

NSW Fire and Rescue deployed significant resources to battle the chemical fire at Bluescope’s Springhill Road facility at Port Kembla on Tuesday.

‘The fire will continue to burn until the gas supply is consumed by fire.

“At this stage, three of the cylinders have burned out, while three continue to burn.”

Fifty workers were evacuated as a precaution, the fire service said, but a BlueScope manager confirmed the site was still operating.

‘Contractors were setting up a package when one of them opened the gas bottle. Gas released and caught fire,” the driver said.

“At this point, firefighters continue to rinse the bottles to keep them cool so that no others ignite while the gas burns itself out.”

The manager said SafeWork NSW had investigated the incident and had since returned the site to BlueScope.

It is understood that the worker suffered burns to his knuckles and drove himself to the hospital before the emergency services arrived.

Bluescope’s Port Kembla complex, located south of Wollongong in NSW’s Illawarra region, is a major steelworks with an annual production capacity of more than three million tonnes of scrap steel.