Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty is frustrated it took a trailer fire on the New England Highway last week to put the town bypass back on the agenda.
The mayor credited the truck driver for disconnecting the prime mover and A trailer of the B-Double assembly and moving them clear of the alight B trailer.
"If he had panicked and run, the whole CBD could have been alight," Cr Petty said.
The incident happened in the early hours of Friday morning when the B-Double trailer caught fire, leaving just a smouldering shell in the town's main street and forcing the closure of the New England Highway.
Cr Petty said it was also lucky that the trailer was carrying cardboard and not a toxic chemical load.
"That would have been in Tenterfield Creek in seconds, not minutes," he said.
Tenterfield Police Sergeant James Boaden said his officers heard the first two bangs from the police station, when trailer tyres exploded, at 1am last Friday morning.
By the time the third tyre exploded they were in Rouse Street, directing the driver to disengage the prime mover and Trailer A, with Trailer B already well alight.
The B-Double had been travelling from Brisbane to Tamworth delivering a load of flat-packed cardboard boxes. Police report that that the truck was fully-loaded with 10 tonne of cardboard in each trailer.
The rear trailer axle seized, causing the tyres to explode. The driver was attempting to fight the fire with a small extinguisher, without success, when police arrived and alerted emergency services.
Tenterfield Fire & Rescue was the first brigade on site, later joined by Queensland Fire & Rescue's Wallangarra crew, Glen Innes Fire & Rescue with their Hazmat truck and Rural Fire Service crews from Steinbrook and Homestead.
Fire Captain John Gray said precious minutes were saved when the police heard the explosions and notified Fire & Rescue comms directly of the incident.
He could see on his way to the station that the prime mover and A trailer had already been unhitched and moved down the road, and the B trailer was fully alight when the crew arrived, and all six of its tyres deflated.
Shop windows on both sides of the street received major cracks and road bitumen was left buckled in the aftermath.
Capt Gray said crews managed to contain the fire within itself but without a prompt response it could have spread to the three shops nearby.
Capt Gray said if the incident had to happen in the middle of town it was fortunate that it was the middle of the night.
"It could have been a lot worse," he said.
Sgt Boaden said a mechanical fault has been blamed for the incident, possibly exacerbated by the truck breaking as it entered the 40kph zone. No charges will be laid.
He is also thankful that it happened in the dead of night.
"If it had of been lunchtime on a Saturday, it could have been a disaster," he said.
The incident has cemented rather than converted opinion on the prospect of a bypass, according to Tenterfield Chamber of Tourism, Industry and Business head Kristen Lovett.
"The business community are extremely aware of how lucky the main street business houses are as a result of the quick action of our emergency services," she said.
While a Tenterfield bypass has been on the cards for decades, Ms Lovett said the town has made great strides in recent years in promoting itself as the prospect of a bypass firms up.
In 2016, the federal government provided $10 million to continue planning for the bypass, including the development of the concept design, Review of Environmental Factors (REF), property acquisition and detailed design.
The project includes 4.5 kilometres of new road, starting just north of the Tenterfield Creek Bridge on the southern edge of town, running west of the rail line and re-joining the existing New England Highway north of Tenterfield.
"The NSW Minister for Regional Transport, the Hon Paul Toole MP, has told me that Transport for NSW remains committed to continuing the development of this project, in line with the Australian Government's funding commitment," New England MP Barnaby Joyce said.
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