At 2245 on 5 June 2014, the crew on Pacific National (PN) coal service ER64 reported that flames were emanating from the top of the fourth locomotive, 8221, on their train. At the time, ER64 was near Awaba in New South Wales enroute to unload at the Eraring power station. The crew stopped the train and assessed the extent of the fire while also calling for fire brigade assistance. The fire was declared extinguished at 0139 on 6 June 2014. It caused substantial damage to the locomotive.
There were no reported injuries as a result of the incident.
What the ATSB found
The ATSB found that the fire was most likely caused when the clevis clamping one of the fuel sight glasses to the fuel filter assembly disengaged, allowing fuel under pressure to spray throughout the engine bay and ignite probably on either the hot exhaust manifold or from within the main generator. The sight glass assembly disengaged because its clevis had compressed, bending inwards, and allowing sufficient lateral movement for it to release from the clevis bolts in the sight glass aperture. The procedures for locomotive inspection and maintenance were not effective at identifying and addressing continuing fuel leakage problems on this type of fuel filter assembly.
What's been done as a result
Pacific National informed the ATSB that an immediate inspection of all locomotives fitted with the sight glass arrangement was conducted to ensure clevis assemblies conform to original equipment manufacturer specifications and requirements. It also informed the ATSB that an amendment was made to current maintenance procedures increasing the inspection requirements for the sight glass assembly including the clevis and clevis bolts.
This incident illustrates the importance for locomotive maintainers to maintain vigilance and ensure adherence to current maintenance procedures when conducting maintenance on locomotive fuel systems to minimise the risk of fuel leakage and consequent potential for fire.