Zig Zag Railway - Project Restart & the fire

 
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

This fire is an unmitigated tragedy for ZZR. I acknowledge the efforts that have gone into creating this superb T&H operation and feel intensely for all who have invested so much of themselves in this operation, both for its recent operational hiatus and now for the damage visited upon you by the fire. For all Australian T&H operators, this is a wake-up call. If your efforts over the years are to be worth something, and if you are to accept your responsibilities to yourselves and the greater rail heritage community, you can no longer park your rollingstock in the Australian bush and hope for the best. Effective steps must be taken by you all to ensure the safety and protection from fire of those items that have been restored and those that are awaiting restoration. Have effective firebreaks, keep unnecessary growth such as grass and weeds to a minimum, and sheds and workshops must either be not of timber construction or at least be protected by some form of built-in fire protection system. We may have to accept that track (sleepers), bridges, and trackside buildings (e.g. restored station buildings and signalboxes) in the Australian rural and bush environment may sometimes burn... but it is surely foolish in the extreme for rollingstock and locomotives---be they operational, under restoration, or awaiting restoration---to be parked/stored/stabled in such a position that a bushfire can destroy them. Can insurance ever replace these items? Of course not. Track and structures can be replaced... heritage rollingstock is irreplaceable.

As far as people go, I understand this was almost a human tragedy as well. We are all lucky that the caretaker was lucky. That is something 'good' that has come from this event.
smokestack
Smokestack
Thanks for your comment, it is very timely, and I cannot help but agree (umm!! errr! forced to agree)...doh!!!

We had prepared a 'pad' at Clarence for a carriage shed in previous years, but, (and there is always a 'but' isn't there), other priorities come along and then it languishes until something happens for it's priority to get further up the ladder - so to speak. Now is such a time.

The post bushfire review will cause much ringing of hands, gnashing of teeth and a fair few 'if only' type of comments, etc. etc... but this time, the push for completion of the carriage shed at Clarence can no longer be ignored. I cannot speak for all members, but I detect a gathering momentum for this to be completed in a 'post 2013 bushfire environment'.

regards
David H

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  Groundrelay Chief Commissioner

Location: Surrounded by Trolls!
It will now take at least a year for the Zig Zag Railway to operate again.
MC3801


And a lot of hard work. All the best.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Smokestack.

What you say is fair, however the aspect of bushfires & this one in particular was bound to cause a lot of serious damage to a lot of properties, likewise the question about how it started is one that cause a lot of soul searching if, as has been reported/suggested that it was a consequence of the army doing some explosive testing or similar, which given the weather conditions seemed quite ludicrous to the extreme.

However, the location & environment of the ZZR is one of those things that was likely to happen some time or another. The sad fact is that the people involved there since day one of the planning & idea that came from the late Ian Thornton including a couple of others in the initial steering group was not able to foresee this happening. The search for loco's & rolling stock meant trips to as far North in QLD as Mackay, & across to Adelaide & the environs there.  The big thing was that the old wooden carriages was about all that could be sourced at the time, given the limitation of finances.

Such an organisation as ZZR rely heavily on volunteers & donations, thus the buildings had to be as cheap as possible, so to look at all steel etc or other fire retarding types of material was very much beyond the means of the organisation in both early stages & even today.  The fact that they have been able to keep up with the insurance is in itself a huge task, & certainly a credit to them.  Anyway what is to say that all steel construction would have saved many of those items either, owing to the intensity of the fires & the heat generated.  Was the DMU that was destroyed built out of Stainless steel or some other metal or wood? If it had been wood, then the shell would have gone, if aluminium, then it would have likely melted.

The problem of these fires & the amount of homes destroyed is caused purely by people building & living in areas that are in the main unsuitable for their projected use, unless the laws of councils & governments & the green movement wakes up to themselves & realises that mankind & the natural environment will always have conflict where highly volatile & combustionable trees are built up to not just fence lines but have to be retained if they are not directly in the way of buildings, or in some cases & depending on councils if they are withing 5 - 10 metres of a permanent structure.

The whole of the surrounding area of ZIG ZAG is part of national parks, & they control the trees etc, & they are bound by government laws that limit what can be done with fire reduction.  There is to me little doubt that if the area surrounding ZZR was tree free by at least 100metres then it may not have been as bad.

There is going to be little doubt that once this is over, the future structures, & R/S are likely to have to have some automatic fire devices, & other things to prevent this ever happening again, but while ever there are trees in that area, of the types that are native to there, the potential is going to be high of it happening again sometime in the future.

Thankfully no one was hurt or killed there, & while it may seem terrible to have heritage stuff burnt, far better that than the loss of live while both may not be replaceable, I think more value (if one can put a value on a human life) can be found in the life of a person, who can still contribute to the future of the SCTY, than what may be found in some old wooden items.
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

They will be around for awhile yet (we hope).
1003 singed, 1004 OK
Zig Zag Reporter

The ex-TGR locomotive 1003 was stored further up '0' road (the original Bottom Points formation) beside RM 2051 and both 1003 and 2051 were going to be the next pieces of rolling stock in-line to be destroyed by the fast moving fire front.... except that the scorched earth line of the fire front comes to an abrupt end indicating that something extinguished the fire at this point - very suddenly - before it reached them.

In these below photos, the only thing that gives away the remains of a bushfire is the scorched earth and burnt trees in the background behind 1003. The foreground foliage is untouched!  

[img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5537/10401743525_ba14529ccf.jpg[/img]


[img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7452/10401723214_e2cb85c682.jpg[/img]




There was even some dry sticks and branches still caught up in 1003's cow catcher from the washaway earlier in the year, and that could have easily have caught fire, but did not.
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

Now, viewing from the other end of 1003 closer to the remains of the fire front, shows a very sharp line between what burnt and what did not. While 2051 escaped (except for a singed connecting door) the now infamous 2016 to which it was coupled [2016 is now featured prominently in a lot of media photos of the overall bushfire damage] was totally destroyed. How could this be???

[img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5522/10402339725_9e6e2fee1f.jpg[/img]

The inspection vehicle started to burn on one side and then mysteriously became extinguished. The line between the scorched earth and the unburnt grass at this place is marked and quite obvious.

We have a theory that at this point in the fires progress, a helicopter 'water bomb' was dropped on the fire here at this particular place. While we have no proof of this as yet, there is evidence elsewhere on the reserve that some thing 'big' hit the ground near the main western railway line and blasted quantities of ballast down the embankment and onto the tarred access road. At some point in the fires investigation, we may get to find out what really happened (we hope).

We have no other explanation as to how only one car of a closely coupled two car Rail Motor set becam totally burnt out and its partner untouched (except for a singed connecting door). Whatever saved 2051, saved 1003 as well (and steam loco 934 which still had coal in its tender under a blue plastic cover and the other last remaining RM set with 2006 in front of it, again).
[img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5531/10402925323_18fd71b0f1.jpg[/img]

By rights the whole row should have gone up in flames, but did not.... and we are very grateful to the sky gods (ehh! isn't that how the cargo cult started in PNG during WWII ???).
And friends, that is how legends are born!!!!

[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3828/10402011565_6334e621db.jpg[/img]

Behind 2051 you can see the burnt out shell of 2016 and all the rest of the devastation behind it, while in front of 2051 and 1003 inclusive, everything was saved.
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

Yesterday I put up a post that included some statements about wooden sleepers surviving a bushfire. Check out these photos:

The best place to store wooden railway sleepers is "in-situ", i.e. under the track and surrounded by ballast (they like it there!!!).

Some sections if they have been under a severe ember attack may experience partial burn-through in a particular location.
[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3734/10401742515_def455b8f8.jpg[/img]

Otherwise only the occassional sleeper is burnt either right through or just partially.
[img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7318/10401751716_d9a8daa18a.jpg[/img]

The alternative is what happens to stored sleepers
Close communal living on top of, or right beside one another is not their thing! (short life expectancy if living in a bush commune).
[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3810/10401750036_e4be115565.jpg[/img]
It took almost 36 hours for this now smouldering pile to almost burn itself out.
Compared to the track behind it (where there are occasional sleepers that partially singed) few, if any, are totally burnt out!
Branches and leaves in the drain between the track and cutting is darkened where the dry foliage burnt inside the drain, yet the in-situ hardwood sleepers have survived, but the stored pile did not.

This was noticeable in a few other places along the railway where sleepers were stored as well.
In total, we estimate approximately 1,000 have been damaged.

regards
David H
  Silver S Set Junior Train Controller

Just a question, why is the Zig Zag railway in narrow gauge, or is it just me? It looks very narrow.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Just a question, why is the Zig Zag railway in narrow gauge, or is it just me? It looks very narrow.
Silver S Set

Yes its narrow gauge 3'6".  The primary reason why narrow gauge was the choice of the original fellow who was the instigator, & did a lot of travelling as well as investigating the options, it was a no brainer if for no other reason the cost & availability of more steam locomotives than could be sourced from SG states.

Not forgetting that the tunnels would have been hard pressed to accept more modern steam loco's from NSW that had a longer service life than sourced from QLD & SA.  The tank engines including D & DD's were much more modern than a 30cl from NSW.  The QR AC16 smaller & a bit older than the NSW 59 but the clincher was the SA garratt, topping that with the pacific loco's its not hard to understand.

Like QLD also going NG also allowed for lighter rails & smaller sleepers a benefit in set up.  The biggest initial stumbling block from QLD was the sourcing of carriages, as those that were sought after were unavailable a reason trips to SA were carried out, with the only problem being chopper couplers on the carriages.

When all things were considered, & despite some external flack by not going with NSW items, I do think that Ian made the right decisions & his vision back in the 60's has stood the test of time, but fires have burnt some of it.
  Silver S Set Junior Train Controller

Yes its narrow gauge 3'6".  The primary reason why narrow gauge was the choice of the original fellow who was the instigator, & did a lot of travelling as well as investigating the options, it was a no brainer if for no other reason the cost & availability of more steam locomotives than could be sourced from SG states.

Not forgetting that the tunnels would have been hard pressed to accept more modern steam loco's from NSW that had a longer service life than sourced from QLD & SA.  The tank engines including D & DD's were much more modern than a 30cl from NSW.  The QR AC16 smaller & a bit older than the NSW 59 but the clincher was the SA garratt, topping that with the pacific loco's its not hard to understand.

Like QLD also going NG also allowed for lighter rails & smaller sleepers a benefit in set up.  The biggest initial stumbling block from QLD was the sourcing of carriages, as those that were sought after were unavailable a reason trips to SA were carried out, with the only problem being chopper couplers on the carriages.

When all things were considered, & despite some external flack by not going with NSW items, I do think that Ian made the right decisions & his vision back in the 60's has stood the test of time, but fires have burnt some of it.
a6et
Thanks
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

Yes its narrow gauge 3'6".  The primary reason why narrow gauge was the choice of the original fellow who was the instigator, & did a lot of travelling as well as investigating the options, it was a no brainer if for no other reason the cost & availability of more steam locomotives than could be sourced from SG states.

Not forgetting that the tunnels would have been hard pressed to accept more modern steam loco's from NSW that had a longer service life than sourced from QLD & SA.  The tank engines including D & DD's were much more modern than a 30cl from NSW.  The QR AC16 smaller & a bit older than the NSW 59 but the clincher was the SA garratt, topping that with the pacific loco's its not hard to understand.

Like QLD also going NG also allowed for lighter rails & smaller sleepers a benefit in set up.  The biggest initial stumbling block from QLD was the sourcing of carriages, as those that were sought after were unavailable a reason trips to SA were carried out, with the only problem being chopper couplers on the carriages.

When all things were considered, & despite some external flack by not going with NSW items, I do think that Ian made the right decisions & his vision back in the 60's has stood the test of time, but fires have burnt some of it.

Thanks a6et, I could not have said it better myself!
You are right on with the sourcing problems of the time (1969-70), The NSWGR commissioner at the time not releasing any locos to any other group other than the RTM, tunnel limitations even if we were able to get a hold of recent (at the time) ex-NSWGR stock.
Ian made the right decision and it has stood the test of time.

One additional bonus was the sudden availability of SAR ground loading wooden passenger cars off the Broken Hill express. A passenger could ride between Peterborough and Broken Hill on 3'6" gauge one day on these cars, and the next day the through standard gauge IP took over when the 4'81/2" was commissioned right beside it. The acquisition of these ground loading cars enabled us to begin passenger operations without full height platforms being required. Add that to being hauled my a modern roller bearing fitted DD17 tank loco (that did not require pit to prepare and lubricate) and we were off and running with the barest minimum of infrastructure. Those were the days!!!

For today's younger generation of enthusiasts, it must seem hard to accept that such a historically significant place like the sandstone viaducts at Zig Zag, right in the heart of the NSW Blue Mountains toursist scene, should be running with interstate sourced rolling stock, but history dictated it, and that is why it is the way it is.
Thank you for all your comments and contributions to this thread.

regards
David H
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

What a difference a fortnight makes.

Saturday October 5

[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/92327956@N07/10289642874/][img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7392/10289642874_c2e6246e76.jpg[/img][/url]
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/92327956@N07/10289642874/]


Saturday October 19

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[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/92327956@N07/10402758064/]
  The_trolley Deputy Commissioner

Location: .
Basically, at the time the ZZR group was established the then NSWR wouldn’t sell steam locomotives off to private groups because it believed that only the RTM’s then Enfield museum should be the one and only to take NSWR loco’s on. And, by the time the NSWR/PTC was selling locomotives off (the Lachlan Vintage Village and what is now Dorrigo etc) the ZZR had already acquired a fair bit of narrow gauge rolling stock including locomotives. The other side of the equation was just as a6et has already mentioned in that the ZZR was and always has been a tourist railway rather than a heritage operation, and that meant that the narrow gauge locomotives from interstate were a better buy. To put it bluntly, being able to buy post war steam locomotives with roller bearings and self cleaning smoke boxes as well as fully overhauled and never used spare boilers to compliment them just wasn’t possible in NSW. Had the ZZR acquired NSWR locomotives, they’d likely have taken on a fleet of locomotives which would have been upwards of sixty years old by that time, and just like the NSWRTM etc have found out, they’d have likely all been out of service by now having given less service than the ex-Queensland power has (try and find a preserved NSWR steam locomotive that has run in preservation as long as ex-QGR BB18 ¼ 1072 has for example). Despite all this, I often find it funny how Queensland enthusiasts seem to be somewhat resentful towards ZZR for “taking their locomotives”. However, what they seem to forget is that the ZZR saved what they did from being scrapped as those locomotives otherwise would have if they had of stayed in their home state. Instead of the resentment, Queensland enthusiasts should probably wish that the ZZR had more money to buy locomotives back in the railway’s infant stages because other locomotives that were scrapped by QR would have been preserved, and some not insignificant one's at that too (a C16 and B18 1/4 etc).


Anyway, it’s really disheartening to see the losses at Zig Zag and I really feel for the current members of the railway. Let’s be honest though and admit that Bottom Points is a hole that should have been done away with years ago, but the really sad thing is that it took a bushfire to realise that. Bottom Points isn’t really accessible (virtually impossible in a situation like the railway was just faced with) and it’s in a cold, dark, space restricted hole where things take months to dry out which is hardly the right environment for timber carriages and the like; the same timber carriages that are lost when a fire roars through the same barely accessible place.


What’s the solution to all this? Clarence has space limitations but it’s close to a town which means that it can in some way fall under the same town’s fire fighting efforts when fire encroaches while it also has roadside access meaning that it’s more easily accessible by emergency services. As for the other benefits, well, it’s also easier to road truck stuff into and out of a depot at Clarence while it also removes the need for empty car and loco movements while even stuff like coal can be kept there instead of at Edgecombe. What the ZZR needs is a big new shed colourbond type with plenty of roads for proper storage of loco’s and rollingstock, a new workshop and store, pit facilities as well as the most important thing, a fire suppression system!

This isn’t the first time that the ZZR has lost rollingstock because of a bushfire (the SAR Brakevan’s etc) so the ZZR should be well aware of the importance of fire protection by now. And, to be quite blunt, this sitting around and crying poor isn’t going to fool those who have been bringing up these issues up for a long time. Also, just quietly, the same goes for leaving stuff out in the bush and then complaining that it’s missing when you go to get it. What has happened is a terrible shame, but the ZZR will recover from it eventually. However, I hope that this has finally taught a few people a lesson because the ZZR needs to protect itself from fire properly and being stuck down in some poky hole in an old ramshackle shed isn’t the way to be. A new shed with a fire suppression system would go a long way, and it’d go some way to solving that problem of parts going walkabout too because someone was too stupid to undo a few bolts and put it away to start with.


Keep running the trains down to Bottom Points, but built a nice new accessible shed up at Clarence using all the donations you can get your hands on. Demolish Bottom Points depot, fence off the Main Western Line and create a nice little green grassed park on the site where people can catch the train down to and have a nice barbeque with their family while watching the ZZR and the Main Western Line do their stuff. And, for Christs sake, don’t go and use the insurance to buy more cruddy timber rollingstock that’ll be useless to the purpose of running a tourist railway (the lost Hospital car’s as an example…). Instead, build that new shed!
  allambee Chief Train Controller

Thanks a6et, I could not have said it better myself!
You are right on with the sourcing problems of the time (1969-70), The NSWGR commissioner at the time not releasing any locos to any other group other than the RTM, tunnel limitations even if we were able to get a hold of recent (at the time) ex-NSWGR stock.
Ian made the right decision and it has stood the test of time.

regards
David H
Zig Zag Reporter
Some at the NSWGR at the highest levels in Transport House did not want the ZZR or any other group aside from the RTM to succeed. I don't know if the RTM had a hand in it as well - maybe unofficially thru one or two board members who had the ear of officialdom. I think the desire of the NSWGR for the ZZR not to succeed was true, but contradictory as the NSWGR sold perway material. The later may have been sold to the ZZR by lower NSWGR management levels.
If the ZZR had access to NSWGR stock, I think it would have been much cheaper for the ZZR to buy some C30 class tanks, a D50 and or a D32 plus platform stock to get going. Spare boilers off withdrawn locos and parts could have been purchased for a song.
The problem the RTM encounterd was they collected locos but didn't put enough thought into spare parts to repair their locos. That's why they ran into trouble.

I wonder what these "suits" in the city thought when QR and South Australia stock appeared in NSW and the policy of not releasing locos was in vain.
The other argument was that track-work for narrow gauge was cheaper, that argument has some truth as the sleepers used in rebuilding the line were old standard gauge ones drilled to accept narrow gauge.
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

Thank you to Allambee, The_Trolley and a6et for your well thought out and well worded, very historically correct, contributions. Thanks also to Silver S Set, as a 'newbie', for kicking this part of the discussion off.

You are all correct in your historical view of the preservation world as it was in NSW during the early 70's. I guess that in the passing of time, I can say that we were helped by local levels of railway management , whether it was either sanctioned in 'the greenhouse' or not!!!

The comments about our prolonged sojourn at Bottom Points and the problems associated with using it as an operating base, are, in all essence correct. We will just have to take that criticism 'on the chin' and deal with it.

As for the future, well this lesson, this bushfire season, will most likely change our future course forever. In any organisation, mistakes are often repeated, and it may take a generation "roll-over" to have any real changes take effect.
I hope we can make the necessary changes sooner than that!!!

David H
  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

A founding member has loaded up on flickr some of his early photos of our restoration and placement at ZZR of the former NSWGR AM type of sleeping cars that we used as accomodation over the last 38 years.
My thanks to CPH3 for availing these to us.

What's left of the VAM sleeping car, last used by the PTC of NSW as part of their breakdown train, hence its distinctive 'yellow' livery.

[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3815/10417324254_1270fd9396.jpg[/img]
[img]http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5519/10417493283_15c55b6b3a.jpg[/img]

Note the ornate verandah ironwork.

It can be seen here in better times as it arrived in our depot by slewing the mainline.
Later on we shunted it down the back of the depot to locate it into its final postion where it remained until last weekend.

[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3763/10420437436_61b1ed6011.jpg[/img]

[img]http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2849/10420409154_c6d2d455cb.jpg[/img]

Shortly before it was removed from the Enfield breakdown train and sold to us, it sat forlornly in the yard at Enfield near number 1 roundhouse awaiting its disposal. At this time, Film Australia were filming the classic production "A Steam Train Passes" featuring 3801 with Chris O'Sullivan and ZZR member, Harold Fowler as the driver and fireman respectively. Our 'Yellow Car' VAM can clearly be seen in the background as 3801 slowly departs the roundhouse in the early scenes of this production.
And so it was a movie star as well, (even if only as an extra!!!!)
Farewall our VAM
  a6et Minister for Railways

As far as buying NSWGR items such as Loco's & R/S was concerned what was the primary interest from the NSWGR side of things was that in 1968 when Ian was into the early stages of the ZZR planning, at least that is when he shared his vision with me, was that any contact to purchase those items cost an arm & a leg, one only has to know the planning timeline to understand that, steam in NSW still had around 5 years left, in fact I do not think the Mk4 48class had arrived on the scene then.
Likewise the more suitable carriages would have been something akin to the old FO type sets, which once again were all pretty well still in service.

What loco's were available for sale were able to be purchased at scrap value, but the thing is all those available for purchase were condemned.  By the time things were getting serious, I was no longer involved as I was no longer in Sydney & in any sort of regular contact with Ian.  By the time things were really on the go, the time of Shirley had arrived & it became all but impossible to purchase anything, although LVR, as well as the Keith Jones collection had started.  The prices being of the items were primarily scrap prices, plus commission as extra's, & the thing was where were they going to be stored?

At the end of McCuskers time, he wanted preservation in NSW, & without his personal intervention much of what is still seen would have been lost, or at best like 3813 as he had assigned the whole capital for its full restoration as a farewell gift to the state, it was the Shirley times & hatred of steam, just as he hated them in England.

Realistically, what engines could ZZR have gotten that would have been suitable for the work they are doing?  30tanks, 30T, 32, & maybe a couple of Freighters.  I mentioned the 59cl, which probably would have been the best of all, but what of them fitting in the tunnels?

Remembering back to those early days in the planning, there was a lot of issues that needed addressing, not least how to get the track in place to run the trains along with the requirement that the section from middle points to ZZ itself had to be also be accessible to the everyday tourist, each presented their own unique promblems, not least when a train was in the section, what about the cars?  The reality certainly came out quite early in the piece that SG would be highly unlikely to work, thus the longer time went on, the more the NG option became the most viable & really only option.

As for buying NSWGR steam loco's & other items such as R/S, when they were sold off they were tendered out, usually in blocks of engines, offers for individual loco's were accepted however the big issue was that once sold to the private buyer, they had a set time to have them removed from the Railway property.  The problem also existed in 1969, when the last 36cl were withdrawn, several of them were still in excellent condition, both mechanically & boiler wise, but with several of them providing big headaches in the last couple of months of service where a few were giving big problems, once withdrawn they were condemned post haste & sent very quickly to Sims. A part of the reason was that there was a concern if they were not scrapped then there may be a temporary need to bring them back again & that was unthinkable.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
ISTR that the ZZR eventually bought some NSWGR cowboy carriages that later went to the State Mine.

Also we're the SX carriages purchased so that they would be fireproof? Would the ZZR consider something similar in the future?
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Also we're the SX carriages purchased so that they would be fireproof? Would the ZZR consider something similar in the future?
GeoffreyHansen
Nothing would withstand the intense heat of a full on bushfire. This is evident from the photos of 2016. Realistically where would you be able to purchase "something similar" now anyway?
  westernline Train Controller

Location: San Onofre California
December NSW Railway Digest  1968 Vol 6 number 8

has detailed coverage of the serious bushfires that happened on 25th october through 20th november of that year

Bargo, the Illawarra and Blue Mountains were worst affected
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I've only just heard this, so it should still be confirmed, but the news report has just stated that this fire was due to the defence force, and according to the defence force, the fire was due to one of their training exercises.

Yes, here it is: [size=2]http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/defence-department-admits-to-starting-state-mine-fire-around-lithgow-and-blue-mountains/story-fni0xqrc-1226745502977[/size]

Defence Department admits to starting the Lithgow fire caused by explosives training.
  allambee Chief Train Controller

I've only just heard this, so it should still be confirmed, but the news report has just stated that this fire was due to the defence force, and according to the defence force, the fire was due to one of their training exercises.

Yes, here it is: [size=2]http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/defence-department-admits-to-starting-state-mine-fire-around-lithgow-and-blue-mountains/story-fni0xqrc-1226745502977[/size]

Defence Department admit to starting the Lithgow fire caused by explosives training.
Zig Zag partly destroyed by military action.
It's highly likely the insurance companies will be seeking to recover costs from the Department of Defence for damage claims paid out and the State Government and RFS will be seeking to recover costs to fight the fire.

The Zig Zag could consider putting fire retarant material on the shed walls and a ember fire protection system using agricultural sprinkler components. The protection system could be remotely activated.
I'm my job I have used a product called Durapanel for warehouses which is relatively cheap. Primarily used for sound reduction it has fire resistant properties.
The material is highly compressed straw and when it burns it just goes charcoal back and smoulders. You need to put colorbond sheeting to the outside.
http://www.ortech.com.au/building-systems/wall-systems
I think its available in various thicknesses, you might even be able to use it on rolling stock.
  MC3801 Train Controller

Video on Channel 7 called 'Zig Zag Railway Heartbreak'.

http://au.prime7.yahoo.com/n3/news/a/-/local/19487972/zig-zag-railway-heartbreak-video
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Sorry about the picture quality but was this the ex QR Pullman sleeper that was burnt?

  Zig Zag Reporter Locomotive Fireman

Hello GeoffreyHansen
The photo you have displayed is one of them.
The ZZR was in possession of two of these type of Pullman cars and they were both stored together at the end of '0' road.

Your photo depicts CAS 123 in a partially dismantled condition.
Its partner (in WWII Ambulance car livery) barely visible next to it, finished its QR days numbered - CAR 587.

The only photo we have showing original condition is of Pullman - CAS 123
[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3744/10438129445_6d280655b1.jpg[/img]

CAS 123 was built in 1913 as a Pullman sleeping car and the photograph shows the carriage as it would have originally appeared. The design was based upon the Pullman carriages then in use on the New South Wales Government Railways and a total of only 14 CAS class Pullman sleeping cars were built by Queensland Railways.

CAR 587 was the first Pullman sleeping car built by Queensland Railways (see photograph of CAS 123). Completed in 1911, it operated on the North Coast mail trains until replaced by the introduction of the Sunshine Express in 1935. In 1937, it was converted into an inspection car for the use of the General Manager at Townsville. A conversion that officialdom in Ipswich, in the form of the Chief Mechanical Engineer’s office, was not aware of until 1940! This conversion involved enclosing the end platforms, the creation of four sleeping compartments that included the original Pullman bunks, plus an observation compartment and a kitchen area.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Thanks for that Zig Zag Reporter. I have a bit of an interest in the Pullman Open Section sleepers. I never realised that the Zig Zag had any. If only I knew when I took the photo.

Thanks for your information.

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