September 25, 2017
At 8.55pm on 5 September 2014, a prime mover and two trailers in a B-Double combination hauling over 50 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, rolled at Angellala Creek near Bakers Bend, Mitchell Highway, approximately 30 kilometres south of Charleville and 700 kilometres west of Brisbane. The load of ammonium nitrate was being transported from Gladstone, where it was manufactured, to a mine site in South Australia. The truck failed to negotiate the bridge at Angellala Creek and came to rest in the dry creek bed adjacent to the road bridge.
The driver was injured and the vehicle caught fire. Two passers-by dragged the truck driver out of the vehicle. Approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes after the accident, it appears the chemical being carried has mixed with the diesel split following the rollover, and the ensuing explosion decimated the site, destroying the prime mover and two fire fighting vehicles and causing ‘catastrophic’ structural damage to the Mitchell Highway. A crater, 12m x 6m x 6 metres deep was formed in the creek bed.
“The infrastructure damage to that road is significant,” said Assistant Fire Commissioner for the south-west region, Tom Dawson. The fact that no one was killed in the blast went ‘beyond luck’, he said.
The driver of the truck received burns to about 30 per cent of his body. Four firefighters were also injured, along with a police officer and another member of the public.