25 July 2018 by Daniel Moore

Firefighting ‘concluded’ at Kent recycling plant

The Kent Fire and Rescue Service has successfully put out a fire that took place at a mattress recycling plant in Kent on Sunday morning (22 July).

The incident started at 11:35am on the Smarden Business Estate in Ashford, with six fire engines turning up to tackle the blaze.

Smarden Business Estate

Firecrews have put out the blaze at the Smarden Business Estate in Kent.

Two large buildings were alight at the scene while local residents were advised to keep their windows and doors closed, due to the “large volume” of smoke in the area.

A statement was published by the department today (25 July), announcing that “firefighting” had “concluded” at the facility.

It said: “Firefighting has concluded at the mattress recycling facility fire in Smarden Business Estate. Crews left the scene just after 4pm yesterday (24 July) and carried out further visits overnight and this morning to check for remaining hotspots.”

Two large storage units belonging to Eco-Matters were “completely destroyed,” and are now deemed as “structurally unsafe”, according to the department.

No casualties were reported over the course of the three-day blaze.

When contacted by letsrecycle.com today, Eco-Matters were unavailable for comment.

Investigation

The cause of the fire is still “not yet known,” and is currently being investigated by the Environment Agency and fire investigation teams.

An EA spokesman said: “Specialist Environment Agency officers assisted Kent Fire & Rescue Service in response to a waste fire at Smarden Business Estate on Sunday (22 July).The fire service estimated that around 1,000 tonnes of waste stored on the premises was alight along with other buildings on that unit.

“Our officers were busy assessing impacts to air and ensured that the local environment was protected. Members of the public are urged to report pollution incidents to our emergency hotline on 0800 807 060.”

The full list of updates on this case can be accessed on KFRS’ website.

Eco-Matters case

Lewis Bertram, owner of Eco-Matters, was fined a total of £15,000 in September last year, after failing to comply with environmental laws.

The “mattress mountain” was originally reported to the local authorities by neighbours in 2014, of whom described it as a “fire risk” to nearby properties and “risked damaging” rivers.

EA officers conducted frequent visits to the site between December 2014 and January 2015. After their evaluation, Mr Bertram was told to “comply with the specific conditions and relevant objectives of his permit.”

However, further visits in March and early April 2015, concluded that Mr Bertram was conducting activities outside the terms of his permit exemptions, as the volume of waste increased on-site.

This was facilitated by further monitoring by EA and KFRS throughout 2015-16; ensuring the fire risk did not “worsen.”

Despite numerous warnings to remove the waste, Mr Bertram was summoned to court in February 2017, where Judge Heather Norton agreed with the complaints; describing the case as “an eyesore and a fire hazard.”

Following the verdict, he received three convictions and was sentenced to six month imprisonment on February 3rd 2017. In addition, he was also presented with a two-year suspension and ordered to carry out 300 hours of “unpaid work.”

Related links

Kent Fire & Rescue Services report

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