Machin's Mill fire, 10 years on

FRIDAY marked 10 years to the day when a horror fire threatened one of the Manning’s pioneer businesses, Machin’s Mill.

One hundred kilometres an hour winds whipped up a frightening scenario when a sawdust pit fire, which was thought to be extinguished days before, was reignited.

Reflecting on the terrifying day, manager Ralph Blenkin said he thought they were going to lose the whole place.

The quick thinking actions of someone who tore down the burning lunch room with an excavator prevented the entire building being destroyed.

“The main damage was to the hydraulic power pack and to stock,” he said.

Due to the devoted work of local fire crews and more than 100 residents who brought the fire under control, the mill was able to resume production in 10 days.

“It was just amazing. More than 100 people were there to help and formed bucket lines to extinguish flames,” Ralph said.

Although the mill lost a week’s production, the strong market at the time meant October turned out to be one of its biggest months.

The support the business had after the fire from customers and suppliers was described by Ralph as moving.

While the fire was a freak event exacerbated by extreme wind, Ralph said the mill is now very conscious of its housekeeping and has purchased its own fire truck.

Waste is no longer burnt on site but has found a market at Lincoln Brickworks.

A scene from the 2002 fire at Machin's mill.

A scene from the 2002 fire at Machin's mill.


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