Ranger Mine says proper protocols were followed regarding controlled fire

A controlled burn started by Energy Resources of Australia near its Ranger Mine was sanctioned and followed regular procedures, says an Energy Resources of Australia spokesperson.

But changing weather conditions caused the burn to grow and spread to nearby Kakadu National Park.

Outlining its version of events, the company said a planned weed management burn was undertaken by the ERA Emergency Services team on the Ranger Project Area last week. There was no fire ban in place for the area where the burn took place or the West Arnhem region. The burn off began on Thursday under normal weather conditions at 7:45am and was completed at 11:00am. The predicted wind speed for the morning period, during the burn was approximately 24km/hr.

Approximately an hour later, when ERA’s Emergency Service Officers were monitoring the burn area, the wind direction changed suddenly from east-south-east to north-west and increased in speed from approximately 16km/hr to approximately 54km/hr. This wind gust reignited embers on the west side of the burn area and carried them across the containment line to outside of the Ranger Project Area. Approximately an hour later, the wind changed direction to east-south-east and the fire proceeded south on the lease.

Energy Resources of Australia says it will communicate with Parks regarding the fire and carrying out an internal investigation in relation to it. The company committed to funding the aerial water bombing operations to put the fire out, and it will undertake any rehabilitation work near the Ranger Mine site.

Image of Ranger Mine from Wikipedia