Damage from a fire at the Longwarry Food Park yesterday might cost less to repair than first estimated, but the factory might not be fully functional again for well over a week.
The repair bill from the fire which broke out in the site’s milk powder spray dryer was originally forecast by assessors to be over $3 million, but Managing Director of the Food Park Rakesh Aggarwal today told The Warragul Citizen he believes the damage to be much less.
“Well we are still assessing the damage; when [assessors] came in they assessed the damage at three million dollars, we think it’s much less than that,” Mr Aggarwal said.
“We haven’t got an estimate as yet, we’re still working through because there are some areas that as we are cleaning up we are finding all the damage behind the vat deposit, so we haven’t got an estimate but I’m pretty certain that it won’t be to the extent of three million dollars.”
Despite the damage bill being less than expected the cleanup may take longer than the original estimate of five to seven days.
“We did make an estimate yesterday that we probably would be operational in a week, but looking at conditions today after having spent one day cleaning up, it could be more than that,” Mr Aggarwal said.
“I’m not certain whether it will be two weeks or three weeks but it looks like it will definitely be more than seven days.”
Staff may be asked to work longer hours to accelerate the cleanup process.
“Well we have [a] cleaning up operation in the factory so right now we have the people [cleaning up] and if we need to get people to work longer hours to make sure we can get back on track quicker that’s what we’ll do,” Mr Aggarwal said.
Recent upgrades to equipment helped contain the fire and changes may be made to factory equipment to help prevent future fires.
“What happened was this spray dryer, although 40 years old, was modified by us in 2006 with explosion vents in line with current technology,” Mr Aggarwal said.
“So the system worked as it was designed and it prevented damage to people and buildings, so no one was hurt actually in the explosion and the damage was limited to the spray drying chambers and [nearby] equipment.”
“Well we will evaluate the reason that the fire started and anything we need to do to elevate (sic) that reason we will.”
Mr Aggarwal said he is grateful to other milk factories for their help after the fire.
“I am grateful to other companies like Murray Goulbourn in helping us in time of difficulty,” Mr Aggarwal said.
“We are in competition but it is so good to see the whole industry has come together to help us in this time of difficulty.”
Get free email updates from the Baw Baw Citizen
Read more Baw Baw News