31 July 2020 by Robyn White

Viridor urges vigilance following refuse vehicle fire

Viridor has urged residents to be ‘vigilant’ about what they put in their bin following a fire today at the Burgess Hill Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) in West Sussex.

The fire involved a refuse vehicle and 15 to 12 tonnes of waste at the Viridor-run HWRC on Fairbridge way.

The fire department arrived to the scene at 5.46am this morning (July 31) to find a refuse lorry “well alight”.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used three hose reels, one jet and a hydrant to extinguish the fire.

Crews remained at the incident at 7.22am this morning, removing the contents of the lorry into the open and using a covering jet to ensure there were no further hotspots.

A West Sussex Fire and rescue service spokesperson confirmed to letrecycle today that the fire has now been dealt with after officers returned to the scene at 10am to reinspect the scene and found no signs of reignination.

The council confirmed that the HWRC remains open today.

A statement from the fire department said: “Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus removed the waste from the vehicle and brought the fire under control using three hose reels, one jet and a hydrant.

“Due to the direction of the wind this morning, residents living in the town were urged to keep their doors and windows closed until this fire was extinguished due to the high volume of smoke.

“Quick action from Viridor staff on site when the fire broke out to move the vehicle away from the building helped prevent the spread of fire any further.

“Between 15 and 20 tonnes of waste was involved in the fire, which was extinguished swiftly, with the last crew leaving the scene  at 8.05am.

“Officers returned  at 10am to reinspect the scene and found no signs of reignition and the incident was closed.”


This comes after a fire was reported on July 22 at the Viridor-run Crawley site, which involved 40 tonnes of waste. The HWRC was closed for “at least a week”  following the fire (see letsrecycle story).

A Viridor spokesperson said: “A fire was discovered in a lorry at Viridor’s Burgess Hill Waste Transfer Station in West Sussex at 5.46am today (Friday, 31 July, 2020).

“Viridor staff alerted West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, implemented site safety procedures and worked with the fire service until the fire was extinguished approximately two hours later.  The site remains open for business as usual.”

“Viridor and West Sussex county council are grateful to the fire service for its assistance.

“The company and the council  ask residents to continue to be vigilant about what they put in their bin. The known causes of waste site fires include hot coals, gas canisters, and batteries, including lithium ion batteries (commonly found in a variety of products such as eCigarettes, mobile phones, toys, cameras and laptop computers). Residents are asked not to add these items to their general waste but to dispose of them at recycling centres.”


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