7 September 2020 by James Langley

‘Batteries nightmare’, says fire-hit Somerset WEEE firm

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue crews worked through last night to extinguish a blaze at the site of a Somerset-based waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycler.

The fire began at 11.36am on 6 September at South West Computer Recycling Ltd’s site at the Poole Trading Estate in Wellington.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue crews worked through last night to extinguish the blaze (picture: Around Wellington)

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was started by accident. The blaze destroyed three trailers containing an estimated 25 tonnes of batteries and small mixed WEEE, South West Computer Recycling’s director Sam Kingdon told letsrecycle.com.

Mr Kingdon said he believed the fire had been started by a lithium-ion (Li-on) battery. He told letsrecycle.com: “This just reminds us of how much of a nightmare batteries are in the WEEE industry.”

Trailers

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said an outhouse was also destroyed in the blaze. Though he said he would “write off” the trailers, Mr Kingdon said he did not expect the damage to cost the business too much. Nobody was said to have been hurt.

This was the second fire suffered by the site in just less than a year, after a similar incident on 12 September 2019 damaged two units on the estate. These have yet to be repaired.

Mr Kingdon said the company had been storing batteries outside in the trailers to avoid further fires in the buildings on the industrial estate.

Fire service

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Crews confirmed the fire involving an articulated trailer unit and adjacent commercial building fully alight. Crews got to work setting up monitor jets awaiting arrival of back up crews.

One of the trailers destroyed in the fire (picture: South West Computer Recycling)

“At 12:26, crews stated the fire involved articulated trailer units, containers with recycling and refrigerators and an adjacent building. Crews were using five main jets and the aerial appliance as a water tower.

“At 13:38, crews stated they were using four breathing apparatus sets and one fog spike on the containers. The fire was surrounded and crews were making good progress extinguishing the fire.

“At 15:46, crews scaled back firefighting to two main jets and the aerial ladder platform, being fed from a hydrant.

“At 22:15, relief crews in situ making good progress with one ground monitor and one monitor from the aerial ladder.

“At 05:00, relief crews rotated through the night making steady progress extinguishing the fire. The fire is now extinguished and crews have left the scene, to revisit later in the day. The cause of the fire was accidental ignition and destroyed two trailers and a commercial outhouse.”

South West Computer Recycling

On its website, South West Computer Recycling says it is “one of the leading forces” in WEEE recycling in the South West. The company says it has disposed of equipment from more than 1,000 different schools, colleges and businesses across the UK.

Established in 2014, South West Computer Recycling says it undertakes 175 collections and processes in excess of 75 tonnes of WEEE a month.

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