Is smouldering Swindon Skips fire being kept alight?

This Is Wiltshire: A view of the fire at Swindon Skips taken from the Wiltshire Air Ambulance A view of the fire at Swindon Skips taken from the Wiltshire Air Ambulance

INVESTIGATIONS are under way by experts to determine whether a mystery fire, which engulfed a waste depot two weeks ago, has had rubbish burnt in it – keeping it alight.

Officers at the Environment Agency have carried out air checks since the blaze at Swindon Skips on Brindley Close first broke out on November 28.

The agency has received several complaints from the public about burning waste being fed into the fire. But Ian Jeary senior manager at Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said there is nothing suspicious going on.

The fire service left the scene after announcing the blaze – which involved some 750 tonnes of building and timber recycling material – had been contained to one part of the site. A decision was made to allow it to burn itself out.

Mr Jeary said since then regular visits have to be made and work in being carried out to remove deep-seated smouldering timber materials. This action could produce more smoke.

“We worked with the EA who advised using a lot of water to put out the fire could cause a contamination hazard for the River Ray,” said Mr Jeary. “Our top priority is public safety so we have been monitoring the site.

“It may seem quite strange but it is pretty normal for sites of this kind to take this long to burn out.”

The Waterside recycling plant which is positioned opposite the site, was forced to close for four days, between November 28 to December 2, when the blaze first broke out and then had to shut for a second time last Thursday, December 5, when a new wave of low lying smoke appeared.

Coun Des Moffatt, who represents Rodbourne Cheney said: “I have been to the site on three occasions. It does seem strange to me that this fire is still smouldering away.”

A spokesman from EA said: “We have received complaints from members of the public, and we are investigating with our partners “When the fire first started at the site, we worked with our partners to establish an Air Quality Cell to monitor the quality of the air and its impact on the environment.

“Our role within the cell is to carry out the air quality monitoring, which we did over the initial stages of the incident, with the results over 28 and 29 November showing no pollutants of concern.

“The decision to close the Air Quality Cell was taken with our partners at 7am on November 29, as no further monitoring was required “We are working with our partners to investigate the circumstances around the fire at Swindon Skips, and will continue to monitor the situation. If anyone has any information about the site, they are encouraged to phone the Environment Agency Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

Swindon Skips declined to comment.

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