Clearaway hails fire plan after battery causes blaze at Basildon site

Essex-based waste management company Clearaway has underlined the importance of its “robust fire prevention plan”, after a large fire broke out at its its facility in Pitsea, near Basildon.

The fire service said the blaze, involving 250 tonnes of waste and machinery, was caused by a battery

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was called to the scene at around 12:30 on Friday (19 January) after 250 tonnes of material and plant machinery caught fire. Local residents were urged to keep their windows closed.

The fire service explained that 52 of its crew members attended the incident over a period of three days before the fire was extinguished on Sunday afternoon.

An investigation into the cause of the fire found it started accidentally by a lithium ion battery put into a skip, the fire service said.

Clearaway said it managed to maintain our skip service during the incident and the waste transfer station was back open as normal today (23 January)


The fire service’s group manager Craig McLellan said: “I’d like to start by saying a massive thank you to all the site staff, and the countless firefighters that have been here over the past three days, working tirelessly to extinguish the fire. It has been a tremendous effort.

“I’d like to stress the importance of disposing of your lithium-ion batteries properly, not in a skip or with domestic household waste.

“The impact of this fire on the business has been huge, which has been caused due to irresponsible disposal. We ask householders to always check with your local authority for suitable battery recycling arrangements in your area.”

Crews remained at the scene until Sunday afternoon


Paul Whitehair, a director at Clearaway, said: “The response by Essex Fire Service was exemplary and I cannot thank them enough for their role in managing this incident. Everyone involved in the waste management industry fears a rechargeable battery having been carelessly thrown into general rubbish. This national issue threatens the lives and property of the professional teams who handle waste on a daily basis.”

Mr Whitehair added: “We are grateful to have a well-trained team and well-rehearsed processes in place for such eventualities. Critically, having these robust plans in place meant that no-one was injured, and our time and money spent investing in our fire plan proved its worth.

“It ensured that the fire was properly contained in one small area of the facility; the firewalls did their job and meant that it did not spread out of control at any time. Naturally, the fire brigade dispensed a huge volume of water and, once again, our environmental controls ensured that the water run-off was securely captured before it could damage the environment, and that the on-site tanks were continually emptied into mobile tankers and removed from the site in accordance with regulations.”


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