On Wednesday, Mr Sellars described walking out of the mine with his injured colleagues, despite suffering burns to 70 per cent of his body, in darkness after the first shockwave tripped the power.
“I was initially holding my breath after the flames went out, in my head, I was thinking about the potential gasses in the air, I ended up taking a breath, shoved [another injured coal mine worker] and just started yelling ‘go go go’. I could hear [a colleague] screaming behind me,” he said.
Mr Sellars said as he reached the surface one of his supervisors told him to stop, to which he replied: “F— off, I’m not stopping for anyone.”
The supervisor insisted. “You’re on fire,” he told Mr Sellars.
Mr Sellars was in the RBWH’s intensive care unit for three weeks and in the burns unit for six weeks.
He told the inquiry he had 10 surgeries to date and would have at least three more. He had skin grafts on his hands, arms, shoulders, back, face and legs and was due to have an ear reconstruction.
Mr Sellars spoke of numerous methane gas level breaches before the explosion.
“We questioned what we would be doing to control the gas. We were just slowing it [the shearer machinery speed] down to keep the gas down and get the ventilation system working,” he said.
“We were never evacuated off the face … we would just wait for the gas levels to drop … and keep busy while we waited.”
Mr Sellars also spoke of the lack of a CFMEU representative on-site and the way the contract workers, such as himself, were treated by mine management.
“Contractors are treated differently to the permanent workforce. With the permanent workforce, more of the boys speak up. We [contractors] got punished if someone injured themselves, we would lose our bonus and that breeds bad culture and gets everyone offside,” he said.
The Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry will resume in Brisbane on Friday.
Toby Crockford is a breaking news reporter at the Brisbane Times
Felicity Caldwell is state political correspondent at the Brisbane Times