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Video reveals truck explosion devastation

UPDATE: Firefighters from the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley have flown to Charleville to replace those injured in a chemical truck explosion.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service Toowoomba officer Inspector Warren Buckley was yesterday among emergency service personnel at the scene of Friday's explosion.

A specialist team of firefighters worked to map the damage of the blast.

"They are walking around through the scrub and off the sides of the road to try and find any debris, regardless of the size, to try and find actual blast patterns which occur with these types of incidents," Insp. Buckley said.

"That will allow them to conduct further investigations and further planning for other such incidents."

A B-double carrying 52 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded after crashing on the Mitchell Hwy, about 30km south of Charleville.

"This is certainly not an every day occurrence for us in the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and particularly for a small town like Charleville.

"The road is missing and the rail is missing so that is going to have a dramatic impact on the local community for many months."

Two firefighters injured in the explosion yesterday remained in Toowoomba Hospital in a stable condition.

The 33-year-old driver of the chemical truck remained in Royal Brisbane Hospital in a critical condition. 

"We've got staff here now from Toowoomba, Oakey, Chinchilla and currently flying in we've got additional teams coming from the Lockyer Valley, Pittsworth and Toowoomba as well.

"We are bringing in additional staff to try and maintain coverage in the town."

A new fire truck is also set to arrive in the district in the next couple of days.

Insp. Buckley said the explosion caused a hole about 5m deep, about 12m long and about 15m across.

"We've had reports of debris up to 1.5km (away)."

EARLIER: A driver was snatched from the cab of an overturned truck just moments before it exploded in a fireball that injured eight people near Charleville.

Four firefighters, one police officer and two passers-by who stopped to help were among the wounded.

The 33-year-old truck driver from Mackay is fighting for his life at the Royal Brisbane Hospital after receiving life-threatening burns and head injuries.

The truck was carrying 50 tonnes of fertiliser when it crashed about 30km south of Charleville on the Mitchell Hwy on Friday night.

>> Region sends emergency backups as explosion's cost counted

The scene of an explosion caused after a truck carrying fertiliser crashed and rolled on Cunnamulla Rd between Charleville and Wyandra. Photo Contributed
The scene of an explosion caused after a truck carrying fertiliser crashed and rolled on Cunnamulla Rd between Charleville and Wyandra. Photo Contributed Contributed

Fuel leaked into the volatile ammonium nitrate load and caused an explosion which destroyed two nearby fire trucks, shredded surrounding trees and turned a bridge into rubble.

Residents 30km away in Charleville heard the blast.

The truck was from Kalari Transport, carrying chemicals from Orica's Gladstone plant.

On Sunday afternoon police were on site and said they expected the exclusion zone to stay in place until about Wednesday.

QPS Media

Residents 30km away in Charleville heard the blast.

"A big explosion rattled our houses here in town about midnight and local reports say that a gas truck crashed and that a fire engine caught alight. Helicopters flying over. Pray for them all," Madeline Cobb wrote on Facebook.

Geo Science Australia received about half a dozen reports of a suspected earthquake.

Two firefighters remained in Toowoomba Hospital. Another two were discharged from Charleville Hospital on Saturday.

Emergency services workers have been praised for their heroic efforts.

"As I understand the auxiliaries performed a snatch and grab (of the driver), they witnessed certain fire activities which gave the indication they needed to get out as soon as they could," chief superintendent for the south west region Lindsay Hackett said.

A fire truck caught up in the explosion.
A fire truck caught up in the explosion. Contributed

"They obviously risked their lives to do the snatch and grab of the driver."

Supt Hackett said the initial emergency call gave no indication the truck was loaded with dangerous chemicals.

The loss of two fire trucks is a major blow for Charleville firefighters.

However, Supt Hackett said back-up vehicles and staff had been deployed to make up the shortfall.

"Obviously these (Charleville) guys have gone through quite a traumatic experience," he said.

"The firefighters will be housed in motels in Charleville and they will be the firefighting force out in Charleville for the next few days.

"That way it will give those guys who were involved in the incident some deserved time off."

Topics:  charleville, editors picks, explosion, truck driver




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