A large fire at an electrical substation in the Illawarra had been contained early on Saturday night, with the operator confident it would not impact the energy supply.
The fire started about 3 pm at the substation on the Princes Highway at Yallah, south of Dapto, New South Wales, police said in a statement.
“As a result of the fire, large volumes of smoke emitted from the scene and blew northbound. It is anticipated that it may be some time before the fire is under control.”
While police had warned the smoke was toxic and urged residents to stay indoors, a spokesperson for Transgrid, the owner of the substation, said there had been no danger to residents as the fire was oil-based.
The spokesperson added that since the fire, now contained, had started in a transformer that was not energized at the time, there would be no disruption to power supplies. She said the site had to be made electrically safe before fire crews could access the blaze.
No injuries were reported.
The Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed in a tweet on Saturday night there would be no disruption to the electricity supply.
“Aemo is aware of the substation fire at Tallawarra. We want to reassure customers in NSW that this will not impact the electricity supply,” it said.
AEMO is aware of the substation fire at Tallawarra. We want to reassure customers in NSW that this will not impact the electricity supply. https://t.co/AwoSEx8C9i
— AEMO (@AEMO_Energy) June 18, 2022
Fire and Rescue NSW said that at 4.48 pm on Saturday, more than 60 firefighters and two mobile command centers were attending the scene at Yallah Bay Road.
“There is a fire and multiple explosions in one of the large substations on site. Approximately 1,000L oil is currently being contained,” the statement said.
“The blaze is also impacting high voltage power lines… The large smoke plume is affecting Wollongong and Unanderra, causing flights in and out of Shellharbour airport to be delayed.”
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At about 5 pm, Paul Baxter, the Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner tweeted that “significant resources” were on scene and “being mobilized as a backup should they be required”. He described the fire as a “dangerous operation” involving a 330kW transformer.
The tweet included an aerial photo of the substation, showing two large fires.
Our crews are deployed to Yallah Bay road, Illawarra. Significant resources on scene and being mobilized as a backup should they be required. This large TransGrid 33 kv transforms dangerous; we work closely with TransGrid and Police. pic.twitter.com/DhQiSw8ajn
— Paul Baxter (@PaulBaxterFRNSW) June 18, 2022