Monday 4 August
A multi-agency plan is being advanced to remove waste material from the Averies Recycling site, which has been burning since Monday 21 July, so that fire crews can put out the blaze.
A Swindon Borough Council statement says: Firefighters have successfully continued to keep the blaze under control over the weekend. However, the significant volume of waste involved and lack of space in which to operate is preventing crews from tackling the fire more aggressively.
Partners are therefore stepping up measures to ensure that around half of the waste is removed by the operator and taken to a suitable site, so the fire can be fully put out as soon as possible.
The burnt waste cannot just be taken to landfill to ensure there is no risk of it re-igniting, resulting in further fire. Appropriate sites for the combustible waste to be temporarily stored and monitored are therefore being identified.
Fires of this nature would normally be allowed to extinguish on a managed basis but given the location of the site and its proximity to residents and businesses this is not considered a viable option as it would take several months for the fire to be extinguished.
Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We have made the decision with our partners to take clear action to bring this fire to a more expedient conclusion as it has been going on long enough and we remain concerned about the impact it is having on neighbouring businesses and those living nearby.
“The firefighters have done a great job tackling the blaze up until this point, but they continue to be hampered by the sheer volume of waste and the confines of the site, which makes their job all the more difficult. That’s why we’re taking forward a plan which will enable crews to put the fire out faster.”
Mark Gaskarth, Area Manager for Swindon at Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Crews have continued working hard at the site over the weekend, successfully making sure that the fire doesn’t spread and is kept under control, minimising its impact on residents and local businesses. This remains an extremely challenging situation and appropriate action is underway which will enable our crews to fully extinguish the fire more swiftly.”
Photos from the scene by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Swindon Borough Council is continuing to monitor smoke from the site and measure air quality. Those living close by and businesses in the local area are advised to continue to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed, if affected by the smoke.
Similarly, motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.
Any smoke can be an irritant and as such, if people need to be outdoors in the Swindon area, they are advised to avoid areas affected by the smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them. Anyone who develops respiratory problems should seek medical advice through their GP or call NHS 111.
The Environment Agency is working with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service as they respond to the fire. Environment Agency officers are on site daily to assess any likely impact on the environment and people. Environment Agency officers have also installed water quality monitoring into the River Cole which provides real time monitoring to staff and the FRS control room.
Members of the public are encouraged to report any incidents of pollution to the Environment Agency’s 24 hour incident hotline on 0800 807060.
24 July 2014, 4pm
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is this afternoon actively attacking the blaze at the Averies Recycling site in Marshgate, where 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste has been alight since Monday 21 July.
Firefighters will start to break down the pile of burning waste and tackle individual seats of the fire, which will lead to an increase in the amount of smoke rising from the site.
Firefighters have not been able to excavate the affected pile of waste due to a lack of space on site. Their work so far has been limited to boundary protection and fire suppression. Over the last couple of days, site operator Averies Recycling has removed hundreds of tonnes of waste away from the site, and this has now given crews adequate space to carry out a new phase to deal with the fire.
It is expected that the operation will take several days to conclude and members of the public have been urged to take relevant precautions if affected by the smoke from the fire.
Dr Mark Evans, from Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire PHE Centre and Dr Ayoola Oyinloye of the Swindon Borough Council Public Health Team made a joint statement:
“Residents in areas affected by the smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and visit the Swindon Borough Council website for further advice and information.
“Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.
“Any smoke can be an irritant and as such, if people need to be outdoors in the Swindon area, they are advised to avoid areas affected by the smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.
“Some of the substances present in smoke can irritate the lining of the air passages, the skin and the eyes. Respiratory symptoms include coughing and difficulty in breathing, breathlessness, and chest pain. If people experience these symptoms, they should seek medical advice through their GP or call NHS 111.
“The smoke can worsen existing health problems like asthma, COPD and cardiac problems. People who have asthma should carry their inhaler.
“Anyone affected by the smoke or concerned about its impact on their health should call their GP or NHS 111."
Although the advice for residents is to stay indoors, temperatures are currently high and could have an impact on the health of those people staying indoors. The following advice has been prepared for residents on how to look after themselves if indoors:
• Remember that it can get uncomfortably hot indoors. Try to keep your bedroom and living space cool, by closing the curtains on windows that receive the sun. Turn off non-essential lights and electrical items as these generate heat.
• Keeping your living space cool is especially important for infants, older people or those with long-term health conditions or who can’t look after themselves.
• A thermometer in your main living room and bedroom will help you keep a check on the temperature; make sure room temperatures are set below 26°C. Electric fans may provide some relief, if temperatures are below 35°C.
• Look out for others especially vulnerable groups such as older people, young children and babies and those with serious illnesses.
• Store medicines in a cool place.
• If you or someone you are looking after feels dizzy, weak, anxious or has intense thirst and a headache, move to a cool place as soon as possible. Drink some water or fruit juice to rehydrate, avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee.
• Try and eat cold foods, particularly salads and fruit with a high water content.
Monday 21 July
Swindon Fire crews tackle blaze at recycling dump at Marshgate
Firefighters from Swindon stations are on site keeping a major fire at Averies Recycling in Marshgate, Swindon under control.
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to the site at 5.51pm on 21 July to find 1,000 tonnes of general waste and building waste well alight. A skip lorry and various pieces of machinery were also been affected.
At the height of the blaze, there were six fire engines, two water carriers, an operational support unit and an incident command vehicle in attendance. The service was also supported by military firefighters, with a specialist appliance brought in from RAF Brize Norton to assist.
This attendance was reduced overnight and, at 6.30am on Tuesday 22 July, there were four fire crews at the scene. It is expected that firefighters will need to remain at the site for some days.
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue has been working with Local Resilience Forum partners, including Swindon Borough Council, Public Health England, NHS England and Wiltshire Police, to ensure public safety, and air quality monitoring is expected to take place over the course of the day.
Wiltshire fire service say smoke is still rising from the site and people living nearby are advised to keep doors and windows closed if they are concerned about the plume, especially if they have a pre-existing respiratory condition.