by: Annika Smethurst
October 14, 201210:30PM
A WEDDING was evacuated and five Victorian towns were blanketed in heavy smoke after a fire broke out in the Lake Hume Power Station near Albury.
More than 50 firefighters from the Country Fire Authority, Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service were called to the blaze which broke out in a high voltage transformer about 3pm Sunday.
But they were unable to start fighting the fire until just after 5pm, when the transformer at the power plant was shut down.
Smoke from the fire blew to the southwest, causing a deterioration in air quality in Victorian towns Bellbridge, Bandiana, Baranduda, Bonegilla and Ebden.
More than 140 people, including a wedding party, were evacuated from the nearby All Seasons Albury Lake Hume Resort, and from the Lake Hume Tourist Park.
Some Bellbridge residents were last night considering leaving because of the strong smoke in the township.
The NSW towns of Kilara and Mitta Junction also suffered lower air quality.
Earlier, a spokesman for the NSW Rural Fire Service, Ben Shephard, said there was concern the fire might spread towards a large oil tank within the plant.
Fire crews managed to contain the oil fire to a switch yard just before 6pm.
But the fire reignited a short time later, causing evacuations in the area.
The volunteer coast guard was called in to pump water from Lake Hume on to the flames.
Crews were again forced to stop fighting the fire about 8pm when it was feared the oily water would spill from a collection pool into waterways.
NSW Environment Protection Authority officials remained on site with the Fire and Rescue NSW crews.
Fire and Rescue Superintendent Phil Lindsay said he expected crews would stay at the power station late into the night, in case the oil-filled power generator flared up again.
The 60-megawatt station is primarily used for peak-load power generation.