Firefighters bid to cut smoke plume

Fleetwood firefighters are now beginning to spray the Jameson Road storage unit fire with water as the next stage in putting it out.
Fleetwood firefighters are now beginning to spray the Jameson Road storage unit fire with water as the next stage in putting it out.

Firefighters battling a massive blaze in Fleetwood have changed their strategy to minimise the spread of ash and fumes.

The blaze, at a warehouse in Jameson Road, has been burning since Saturday evening.

The huge fire, involving bales of plastic, reached temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees and generated a plume of smoke which could be seen across much of Lancashire.

Minimising that smoke and the impact on residents living close to the site is now the priority for firefighters.

They began spraying water onto the burning plastic yesterday.

It is hoped the mist of water will reduce the size of the smoke plume and cool material which has not yet been consumed by the inferno.

Group manager Frank Robinson, who is leading the firefighting operation at the scene, said: “We have been looking every day for a reduction in the size of the plume.

“I arrived on Thursday morning and there was no real evidence of that.

“The decision was taken to start using water on the fire. It is not a change of tack, we will continue with the controlled burn.

“We are applying a suppression spray which will help minimise the plume and help cool the material on site.”

Mr Robinson said the water would be sprayed high above the fire to form a mist, minimising run off and reducing the environmental impact, in particular the risk of contaminated water entering the River Wyre.

He added: “We are monitoring all the time. We want to make sure it is not saturated.

By using water droplets on the fire from height we can prevent a lot of water running off.

“We are working in conjunction with the Environment Agency to minimise impact.”

He added that continued high pressure and low winds had assisted the firefighting operation but made clear there was no time frame for the end of emergency operations at the site.

Firefighters have spoken to site owners Reform Energy and are hoping to have specialist equipment on site today which will help them spread out the compacted bales.

“We are looking at getting in machinery with a long reach.

“We are dealing with a fire contained on concrete hard standing and with the right equipment we can push the bales around.”

Police are treating the fire as suspicious and a 16-year-old youth has been bailed.