Derrinallum closed off after fatal explosion

DERRINALLUM will be isolated until Easter at the earliest as explosives experts continue to sift through the remains of a property destroyed by a massive blast.

Police block the Hamilton Highway near Derrinallum.

Police block the Hamilton Highway near Derrinallum.

The Hamilton Highway is closed and detours are in place as the painstaking police operation moves into a fourth day.

They are slowly raking through the ruins in the hunt for clues as to how and why 48-year-old Glenn Sanders blew up his house and shed, killing himself and injuring two police negotiators after a seven-hour siege early Saturday.

Shock and disbelief have turned to numbness and uncertainty as residents try to come to terms with the shut-down and the blast which has put the town back on the map. 

They are hoping their day-to-day lives can return to normal as soon as possible and the community can put the tragedy behind it.

“It’s just like something out of America,” one resident said yesterday.

Derrinallum traders are reporting a huge slump in trade as through traffic is diverted at Lismore and Darlington. Many are thankful of the little support they are getting from police and other emergency service workers who need food, meals and beds.

Milk bar operator Geoff Spillman said his business was down between 60 and 70 per cent.

“Yesterday the town was dead and weekend is normally really good for travellers.”

Mr Spillman said he was becoming frustrated with the road closures. 

“I’ve had staff who’ve had to argue their way through a roadblock. 

“The town is still here and we’ve got supplies we’ve got to get in.”

Lismore is also feeling the impact as motorists and truck drivers avoid the highway completely and divert along the Glenelg or Princes highways.

Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor visited Derrinallum yesterday morning to speak to business people and try to reassure them.

“It’s a police operation and pretty much out of the shire’s hands,” Cr O’Connor said.

“We have no information on when the roads might be reopened.”

A meeting has been organised at the town’s public hall at 7.30pm today to update residents on the situation. Police will be available to answer any questions.

“It will be nice to get some feedback,” Cr O’Connor said. “Unfortunately, a lack of information can get locals talking, particularly on social media, and that’s when exaggerations can happen.

“Derrinallum is resilient enough to get back on its feet in the shortest time possible.”

A police command post has been set up about one kilometre east of the blast site where a crime scene has been declared. 

Inspector Michael Baker said the roads around the blast site would remain closed until the end of the week at least.

He said police were yet to determine what explosives were used in the blast and where they had been placed around the property.

They were also trying to ascertain if there were underground bunkers at the property, as some people had suggested.

Inspector Baker said Sanders had visited a relative – believed to be his mother, Margaret – in hospital at Ballarat in the hours before the stand-off with police.

However. police dismissed suggestions he had been involved in a violent incident in Ballarat.

Inspector Baker was unable to confirm whether police had received reports of Sanders walking around Derrinallum with explosives strapped to his chest and hidden under his clothing.

He appealed to anybody with information about Sanders or his behaviour to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.


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