6 September 2016 by Will Date

Building destroyed after fire at Wiser WEEE site

A fire at Wiser Recycling’s waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processing facility on the Caxton Road industrial unit in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, has caused major damage to a buidling on the site.

The facility, which houses the company’s head office, mixed WEEE, fluorescent tube, lamp & CRT recycling and WEEE reuse facilities, was hit by a fire yesterday (5 September) afternoon. An entire building was destroyed in the fire, it has been confirmed – although the full extent of the damage has yet to be revealed.

Fire crews attended the site shortly after 14:00 yesterday afternoon

Fire crews attended the site yesterday afternoon (picture: Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service)

The fire is likely to have been caused by a lithium battery, according to fire officers.

letsrecycle.com has contacted Wiser Recycling for comment, and a spokesperson confirmed that the fire had occurred at the company’s Caxton Road site.

Fire crews from Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue were called to the site shortly after 2:30pm after a fire had been detected in a WEEE baling area.

The Fire Service said that crews from St Neots, Huntingdon, Ramsey, Chatteris, Gamlingay, Ely, Cambridge, March and Thorney all attended the scene – with fire officers arriving to find a ‘well developed’ fire in the two-storey industrial unit that had spread to the roof.

Response

An aerial jet was used to extinguish the blaze that was spreading quickly to other nearby buildings, it was claimed. No injuries were reported from the site.

The incident was scaled down yesterday evening and at about 10:00pm just one crew remained at the scene dampening down and keeping a watching brief throughout the night. The final relief crew left the site at 7:30 this morning, although crews will return regularly to make inspections and dampen down where needed, the Fire Service has said. Some nearby properties were evacuated as a result of the fire.

An aerial jet was used to extinguish the fire

An aerial jet was used to extinguish the fire (picture: Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service)

Following a full investigation, the cause of the fire was determined as accidental. The Fire Service has claimed that the most likely cause of fire was a lithium battery that was caught up in the baling process.

Station commander Dave Lynch, one of the officers in charge of the incident, said: “The main building where the fire started has been completely destroyed by fire, however, fire crews worked extremely hard to prevent the fire from spreading anywhere else.

“The situation potentially could have been a lot worse as there are a number of other industrial units and businesses in very close proximity and had it not been for the skill and hard work of the crews, there could have easily been more than one unit seriously damaged by fire. External paint work of two other businesses has been damaged by radiated heat.

Fire crews left the site shortly after 7:30am today

Fire crews left the site shortly after 7:30am today

“All the business owners, staff and members of the public from the surrounding properties were fantastic yesterday and were very supportive of the crews’ work, which our firefighters really appreciated. We would like to thank the community for its support during tough incidents like these.”

Investment

Wiser operates three WEEE treatment facilities – known as AATFs – at sites in West Yorkshire and Norfolk as well as the Cambridgeshire plant. The company recently invested in a ‘Smash Boom Bang’ rotating drum machine to disassemble small mixed WEEE on the site – which was installed in June 2015. In total the company has invested £450,000 across its three sites, including Cambridgeshire, in the last 12 months.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for Wiser Recycling said: “Our staff evacuated very quickly and there were no injuries from the incident but what started as a small fire took hold very quickly and our operations and building at this site have been destroyed.

“The blaze was extinguished by Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service with whom we are cooperating fully. They have stated that “following a full fire investigation, the cause of the fire was determined as accidental.  It is believed the most likely cause of fire was a lithium battery that was caught up in the baling process of the recycled electrical items”.

“We are currently implementing contingency plans in order to be able to continue to provide a full service to our clients. Our administration and transport teams are up and running, our drivers are collecting as normal and we have full access to our systems, emails and phone lines which are redirected to temporary offices at our sister company, Wiser Environment.

“We offer our sincerest thanks to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and our staff, and apologise to local residents and businesses for the inconvenience caused from the fire.”

FIRE CONFERENCE
A conference on fire prevention and control in the waste and recycling industry, organised by letsrecycle.com, is to be held in London on 9 November. More details at: www.fireconf.com

[Updated 07/09/2016 pm to include statement from Wiser Recycling].


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