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Kidderminster fire: latest
7:15pm Friday 21st June 2013 in News
Crews are still on site at Lawrence Recycling on the Stourport Road, Kidderminster, where a fire broke out on Sunday.
One fire engine and one pump are working to extinguish the large quantity of burning material on site.
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service managed to bring the fire under control on Sunday night but it is likely to take many days to extinguish it completely.
The fire service has been at the site 24 hours a day since the fire started.
The fire is within large piles of baled up commercial and household waste including paper, cardboard and plastic. The buildings are structurally unsafe and therefore access is very limited.
Group Commander Grant Wills said: "It is expected that the fire will continue to burn for some time due to the building being structurally unsafe so the large quantities of household waste are unable to be removed at this time. Our efforts are focused on limiting the impact to the local community as much as possible.”
Air quality monitoring by the Environment Agency has not shown raised levels of hazardous compounds in the smoke plume, but smoke from any fire can be an irritant if it is particularly dense.
Currently the amount of smoke is reducing but its direction can vary according to the prevailing wind. Public Health England (PHE) has advised that anyone affected by the smoke should stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed. Anyone concerned about symptoms they may be experiencing due to smoke should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 / NHS 111.
Dr David Kirrage, a consultant with PHE’s West Midlands West Health Protection Team, said: “It’s important that local residents understand that the risks to their health are low, however because any smoke is an irritant, it can make people’s eyes and throat sore.
"People with asthma and other respiratory conditions may be particularly susceptible to the smoke and should carry and use their medication (such as inhalers) as usual. The general advice therefore remains that if possible people should try to remain out of the smoke.
“We are aware there have been claims about longer term health risks to residents affected by the fire, from chemicals such as dioxins. The clear scientific advice, based on experience gained from numerous fires worldwide, states that, in relation to this fire the levels of such chemicals released over the time it has burnt and may continue to burn, do not pose any significant short or long term risk to the health of residents.”
Advice from Worcestershire Regulatory Services, which monitors air quality for Wyre Forest District Council, is that there is no danger to public health from the remains of the fire at this time. Levels of smoke on Tuesday were recorded as less than 20 per cent of Monday's levels and as long as the fire continues to die down that downward trend will continue. The situation will be reassessed daily.
The Environment Agency has also been on site since Sunday, trying to minimise all the environmental impacts of the fire with partners. Work has included containing the majority of fire fighting water on site, and preventing it from escaping into the nearby Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and River Severn. A small amount did escape into the canal which depleted oxygen levels and led to the Environment Agency deploying aerators.
Dave Throup, Environment Manager from the Environment Agency said: “We have been working closely with all partner agencies to review the options for managing the fire and its possible impacts.
"As well as our work at the site of the fire, we have worked closely with the Canal and River Trust to increase the levels of oxygen in the canal, which has helped protect thousands of fish. We have also moved around 300 fish to healthier water in the canal upstream in the centre of Kidderminster.”
James Jesic, Production Manager from Severn Trent Water, said: “We constantly monitor the quality of our customers’ water. Our checks show that drinking water supplies have not been affected and our customers’ water is safe to drink. If this situation changes we have a robust plan in place and will contact our customers.”
Wyre Forest District Council, Worcestershire Regulatory Services, The Canal and River Trust and West Mercia Police have all been working with the main responding agencies to manage the situation.
Currently the cause of the fire is unknown and is under investigation by the Fire Service and the Police. The Environment Agency will work with the Operator to inspect and audit their processes from a regulatory perspective, and what actions they need to take to improve waste storage and fire prevention measures.
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