News State Victoria News Toxic smoke alert as firefights battle to extinguish Victoria’s ‘big battery’

Toxic smoke alert as firefights battle to extinguish Victoria’s ‘big battery’

Smnoke billows from the two burning containers at the Big Battery site near Geelong. Photo: Channel 7
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’About 150 firefighters are battling a blaze at Victoria’s “big battery” project west of Melbourne, as it spreads to a second battery unit.

The fire started during testing of the Tesla battery set up on Friday morning at Geelong-Ballan Road and Atkinsons Road in Moorabool.

“They are rather difficult to extinguish,” CFA Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ian Beswicke told reporters.

“There is another one right beside it that is burning as well.”

The “big battery” is slated to become the biggest in the southern hemisphere, and forms part of a state government push to transition to renewable energy.

Nearby residents are being warned of toxic smoke in the area and firefighters are using breathing apparatus.

The 13-tonne lithium battery bank that caught fire is about 15 metres long, three metres wide and three metres high and is encased in a shipping container.

Fire officer Beswicke said the CFA and FRV planned to let the fire burn itself out, but that could take 24 hours.

A firefighting drone has been deployed to monitor heat from the blaze and help determine whether the fire is spreading into other battery units.

Firefighting efforts had been constrained by the need to relay water to the site.

Proponents Neoen had only registered the 300MW battery project with the energy market operator on July 28.