10 June 2008

Crawley recycling centre building “destroyed”

The damping down process has begun at a Viridor-managed household waste recycling centre in Crawley, West Sussex, after a fire destroyed the facility's main building.

The blaze at the Metcalfe Road site, which Viridor manages on behalf of West Sussex county council, began yesterday (June 9) evening at approximately 6pm and continued to burn overnight, with as many as 70 fire-fighters on the scene at its height.

The Metcalfe Road household waste recycling centre in happier times, before yesterday's blaze hit

The Metcalfe Road household waste recycling centre in happier times, before yesterday’s blaze hit

A statement from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service said: “Two fire engines were sent. On arrival they were faced with a well-developed fire involving a large amount of household recycling and waste, which was contained within a large, purpose-built 60 x 30 metre building.

“Crews immediately called for a further eight fire engines and an aerial ladder platform. Early indications showed that the building could collapse and fire crews were withdrawn to a safe distance. Crews continued to tackle the blaze through the night, using water ground monitors and a water jet from an aerial ladder platform,” it added.

And, a spokesman for the service told letsrecycle.com that “steady progress is being made, we're damping down at the moment”.

While an investigation is currently underway to ascertain the cause of the blaze, local residents have raised concerns over the potential toxicity of smoke from the fire.

However, Viridor has confirmed that there are no concerns over its toxicity.

With the fire under control, the county council has revealed that it is already planning to rebuild the site, which stores a wide range of household recyclables, including cans, paper and cardboard, waste electronics and electrical goods, furniture, glass, green waste, metals, plastic bottles, textiles, soil and hardcore. Household hazardous waste such as batteries, engine oil and tyres can also be left at the site.

Council leader Henry Smith said: “The cause of the fire is not yet known and investigations are currently underway. Once these have been completed, we shall be looking at rebuilding and restoring this prestige site, which we would aim to finish within six months to a year, depending on what damage there is to the superstructure.”

In the shorter-term, the council has indicated that it is in discussions with both the Environment Agency and Crawley borough council about establishing temporary waste facilities adjacent to the fire-damaged site.

A spokesman for Viridor explained that any statements on the situation would be made by the county council.

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