FIRES SPECIAL: Major printer saved as staff battle raging mountain fire ember attack

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Staff at Industrial Printing Co in Lithgow faced a harrowing battle to protect the premises, with red hot embers flying in every direction as a mountainside fire raged just 200m away.

Narrow shave: the view from Industrial Printing Co of the burnt mountainside, 200 metres from the business
Narrow shave: the view from Industrial Printing Co of the burnt mountainside 200 metres from the business

The Lithgow fire on 21 December saw eight employees fight to keep the property safe as the hills burned 200 metres away from the building. According to Steve Scott, general manager, the whole site could have been destroyed if nobody had stayed to protect it. The only bright news was that the fire happened over the Christmas break and didn’t cost the company any business.

“We had one spot fire on our premises that we had to stop – you always think it couldn’t happen to you, but we’ve realised the potential for catastrophic outcomes. It didn’t get to the point where we thought we might lose the building, but our biggest threat was ember attack. We had all the sprinklers going flat out on the roofs, with four fire hoses and one hydrant going.

“The scariest point in all of it was when our spot fire started and everyone in the area was using the water, so we didn’t have much pressure. That probably took around 20 minutes to get under control, but nothing serious was damaged – just some grass and a bit of fence, though it definitely could have escalated out of control if we hadn’t seen it,” he said.

Scott told Print21 that Industrial Printing is now open and trading again. One worker who lived in nearby Clarence now rents a home after their property was damaged.

“Business-wise we’re fine. Our biggest thing now is getting some more fire protection equipment and plans in place for the future. It’s so burnt-out right now that we’ll be safe for a while, though.

“Ours is a good news story – there’s probably other businesses that have been impacted more than us. We feel for everybody who’s hurting at the moment,” he said.

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