Monday 2 December
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has left the scene of a significant fire at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate in Swindon, which started on the evening of Wednesday 27 November.
The fire – which involves some 750 tonnes of building and timber recycling material – has been contained to one part of the site and the decision was made on Thursday to allow it to burn itself out. This is the most effective way of bringing the incident to a close, and will avoid any environmental hazard from using significant amounts of water.
Responsibility for monitoring the Swindon Skips site was handed over to the owner and the local authority at 6pm on Sunday (1 December). While there is still some material burning, it no longer presents a risk that requires the presence of firefighters on a ‘watching brief’.
Fire officers will continue to carry out regular site inspections until the fire is completely extinguished.
Initial investigations into what started the fire were inconclusive, and it’s possible that the cause may remain unknown.
Members of Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum worked together on 27 and 28 November in relation to a significant fire in Swindon that broke out at Cheney Manor Industrial Estate.
Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to Swindon Skips in Brindley Close at 8.48pm on 27 November where some 750 tonnes of building and timber recycling material were well alight.
Because of the number of firefighters involved in tackling the blaze, South Western Ambulance Service maintained a presence at the scene throughout the incident in case of injuries.
Wiltshire Police were also at the scene, assisting with traffic management and site safety, while the significant smoke plume was monitored and assessed by Public Health England.
At 1pm on Thursday 28 November there were eight fire engines in attendance from Swindon, Stratton (two), Corsham, Cricklade, Marlborough, Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon. They are being supported by a water carrier from Royal Wootton Bassett, the Swindon aerial appliance, an incident command vehicle from Stratton, and an operational support unit from Swindon.
Crews worked with staff from the site to create fire breaks around the affected area, and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used water jets to tackle the blaze.
At 4.30pm there were still five crews in attendance, from Malmesbury, Chippenham, Melksham, Westbury and Ludgershall, supported by an incident command vehicle crewed by Devizes firefighters.
Photo taken from the Purton Road railway bridge at 9pm, on 28 November, looking towards Cheney Manor and Christ Church in Old Town
The fire had been contained to one part of the site and the decision was made to allow it to burn itself out. This was regarded as the most effective way of bringing the incident to a close, and to avoid any environmental hazard from using significant amounts of water.
At 9am on Friday 29 November there were two fire engines in attendance as well as the aerial appliance which is being used to monitor the site.
Smoke from the fire was seen from some considerable distance away with both the Environment Agency and Public Health England monitoring the site. People locally were advised to keep windows and doors shut as a precaution if they were concerned, especially if they had existing respiratory conditions.
Public Health England has said: “People should do all they can to stay out of the smoke. If residents are affected by smoke, they should stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed. Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should also keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed. Anyone affected by the smoke or concerned about its impact on their health should call NHS 111.”
The site is situated next to the main railway line and trains were stopped for a time overnight.
Swindon Borough Council closed the adjacent household waste recycling centre at Waterside Park for at least 24 hours as it cannot be accessed safely.
The Fire & Rescue Service is working with partners from the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum to manage the incident. A response team from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church attended the scene, providing welfare and refreshments for the crews under an agreement with the Service.
Officers from the Environment Agency have been on site managing any environmental impact from the inciden.
A fire investigation will be carried out once the fire has burnt out; as yet, it is not known how the blaze started.