VIC milk processing explosion causes $3 million damage

An explosion at a Victorian milk processing plant in the early hours of this morning has caused more than $3 million worth of damage.

According to Country Fire Authority (CFA) incident controller Ian Pattie, powdered milk is almost as explosive as coal dust and firefighters who attended the blaze were confronted by extremely thick smoke which meant they had to take turns trying to extinguish the flames.

"Milk powder is a fine dust when mixed with air," he said.

"Because it’s being dried at reasonably high temperature you only need a spark in there and you’ll get a dust explosion."

Pattie said it is fortunate nobody was injured in the explosion.

"There were only about four staff on night shift, one in the control room and a couple of others in other parts of the plant."

Rakesh Aggarwal, managing director of the Longwarry Food Park, east of Melbourne, where the blaze took place, said the tower’s main structure has not been seriously damaged and agreed that explosions are always a risk for milk processing plants.

"That is why we modified the drier to provide for explosion protection," he said.

"It’s just unfortunate it happened to us at this time, but at least all the safety precautions we put in place did work and limited the damage to us."

Image: Longwarry Food Park