An explosion occurred at one of three gas plants operated by Esso at Longford. The fires caused by the explosion burned for two days, and many Victorians were left without gas for 19 days.
The rupture led to the release of vapours and liquid. The last fires were extinguished at 5.30 pm on 27 September.
It is estimated that 1.4 million households and 89,000 businesses were affected, costing approximately $1.3 billion. Two Esso employees were killed by the explosion and eight sustained serious injury.
On 12 October 1998, the Victorian Government announced a Royal Commission into the incident. It concluded that employees were not properly trained, and supervisors and higher management did not have the necessary knowledge to deal with the dangers caused by a pump shutdown. It was found that the ultimate cause of the accident was a failure to equip employees with appropriate knowledge to deal with the events that occurred.