Fire unlikely to cause major delays: CEO

INSPECTION: SafeWork SA delegates and Maritime Constructions workers inspect the jetty post fire on Thursday.
INSPECTION: SafeWork SA delegates and Maritime Constructions workers inspect the jetty post fire on Thursday.

Despite an enormous fire which had to be corralled by emergency services, Whyalla City Council CEO Chris Cowley is confident there won't be any delays to the new jetty project.

Mr Cowley was speaking a day after angle-grinding work by sub-contractors under the direction of SA company Maritime Constructions led to plastic planks on the jetty catching fire.

"Whilst we had all the safety measures in place, clearly the planks were more volatile than we expected. Once the sparks and some heat had got into those planks, the fire took hold very quickly," he said.

"The sparks were generated by equipment that was being used to remove the handrails from the jetty.

"While the workers had noticed some of the sparks and smoldering, the fire had taken hold beneath the jetty, which was out of their line of sight.

"At that point it was a matter of looking after their safety, and I'm pleased to say all the workers evacuated the site and no one was injured."

According to council four workers were on the jetty at the time of the fire, two of them being local contractors.

Three were on land while the fourth was on the end of the jetty. He was forced to self-evacuate before being helped back to shore by a police officer.

Asked whether the workers had adequate safety measures in place at the time of the fire, Mr Cowley said Maritime Constructions had taken 'all foreseeable' safety measures for the site.

"This was simply one of those events that couldn't have been foreseen. I'm pleased to say they have responded in the best way possible to ensure safety," he said.

SafeWork SA were onsite to undertake a review of the jetty on Thursday after the incident, with Maritime Constructions and the Whyalla City Council also taking part.

"Maritime are our lead contractor so they're assessing the safety of the structure that is left, the heat may have impacted on some of the metal," Mr Cowley said.

"They will look at their demolition methodology and that will dictate any differences....they may look at different ways to remove the handrails or getting some mobile cranes in to assist."

Mr Cowley said demolition of the jetty would re-commence 'as soon as physically possible' once the review had been completed.

"We don't forsee this will have any negative impact on the ultimately delivery of this project in a timely manner," he said.

"Whilst we have lost a bit of time, those boards did have to be removed, so there will be zero impact on the financial aspects of this project."

Council are also working with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to take measures to address any environmental impacts in the fallout of the fire, including bringing in divers to remove melted plastic from the sea floor.

Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin spoke with the Maritime Constructions workers who were onsite at the time of the fire.

"It was quite a traumatic experience....they appreciated me coming down to check that they were all OK," she said.