The Blaze is now out at abandoned Alex Smiles waste site
Written by Scott McGerty on 8th June 2018
Partners responding to the fire at the abandoned Alex Smiles waste site in Deptford say they are satisfied that the blaze is now out.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Sunderland City Council, the Environment Agency and Public Health England have been tackling the incident since it broke out on Monday 14 May.
When the fire first started there were fears that it could continue burning for weeks if not months, as has been the experience at other waste sites in other parts of the country.
But just over two weeks after fire-fighting moved from containment to the removal of the material and dampening down, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) confirm the fire has now been extinguished.
More than 7,000 tonnes of waste have so far been safely removed from the main warehouse since machinery started to remove the material from the buildings to allow more fire-fighting 15 days ago.
This has involved identifying and removing any remaining hot and smouldering material from inside the building before cooling it and making it safe.
Working under guidance from the fire service, contractors have also been able to get machinery inside the main building, allowing them to access piles of smouldering waste which were previously out of reach.
The Environment Agency and Sunderland City Council have been monitoring air quality and water quality in the River Wear from the very start of the incident to minimise the impact on local communities and the environment.
Les Clark, Chief Operations Officer at Sunderland City Council, said: “This has been about protecting public health first and foremost. That’s why we’ve worked with partners to limit the risk to people living and working nearby.
“The partner agencies involved in the response have made tremendous progress in tackling the blaze since fire-fighting moved from containing the fire to a more aggressive approach 15 days ago.
“The fire service are now satisfied that the fire is out so the intention is for partners to secure the site and withdraw from it, pending a long term solution for the land.
“In the long term we are keen to bring the site back into use but this is something that will require millions of pounds of investment to clear the site.
“So we need to be realistic about the timescales involved and we also need to assess the impact of the fire on those plans.”