Story 34 - Generator Burns on Nui Dat Hill


By Geoff Morgan

In a letter to Lena (Wife) I wrote:

Earlier this morning after filling a generator with petrol a short was caused when the jerry-can was placed on the ground across a section of the wires from the battery that happened to be bare.  The split petrol caught alight. How the jerry-can in my hand didn't blow up I'll ever know.  I escaped with only minor burns to my right foot. Have just come back from the RAP where I had it attended to.  Nothing serious, thank goodness.

Two 2.5KVA and the remote radio cables to the HQ burned

As you can imagine, with two generators plus quite a few gallons of petrol burning it was quite a blaze.  We thought for a moment that we'd lose our tent with everything in it as there were full cans of petrol near the fire.  However, I managed to pull these out of the way.  After about ten minutes we managed to get some fire extinguishers and put out the blaze, but not before all the land-lines providing communications for the Task Force were burnt through.

As a result we lost all radio communications.  However, the linesmen have now replaced the three main radio land-line links.  Actually the fire is a god-send as all the wires were old and needed replacing, so now it's being done.  Quite a bit of excitement as you can imagine.  Something to write home about at least.

Put in a report on the fire earlier in the afternoon.  I don't think I'll be in too much hot water as the investigating officer didn't seem too concerned.  The only matter in which I could be in strife over is not having my boots on at the time.  But as I explained to him, being on shift for 11 hours during which one hardly moves from the bunker is a good time to give your feet a rest.  Anyway, we'll see what happens. 

Comment:  From a note in a subsequent letter, it appears that the officer in charge of fire equipment - whoever that was - may have got a rocket due to the poor state of the fire equipment. However, I heard nothing more about the incident.

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