Video: Fire crews will remain at former Cummins unit blaze ‘for several days to come’

Baled waste pulled from the unit by firefighters Photo David Rankin

Firefighters are expected to remain on the scene of the industrial unit fire at Westwood for several days to come, while they continue to dampen down the baled waste that is alight.

A Kent Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “During the day time between 9am and 6pm, seven fire engines will be assigned to the scene with crews working to extinguish the fire and move the waste. Between 6pm and 9am, two fire engines will remain on site to provide a watching brief.

“No firefighting operations will take place overnight due to lack of light and to ensure the safety of crews.

Photo David Rankin

“Smoke will remain in the area for some days to come, and the advice for people living and working nearby to keep windows and doors closed, remains in place.”

KFRS says it is normal for this type of burning material to take some time to fully extinguish.

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Crews were first called at 6.20am on Saturday (September 15) to the blaze. At the height of the fire there were 80 firefighters, 14 engines and specialist vehicles on the scene.

Firefighter Ian Thomson, who was the duty brigade manager at the scene on Saturday, said the ‘intense’ fire could mean crews will stay at the scene ‘for days.’

Photo John Horton

He said the blaze has been fed because the unit is ‘packed from front to back with ‘flammable waste.’

Fears that the site was a potential fire hazard due to the waste in the building were raised in a BBC report in January. At the time the Environment Agency said it was investigating. It has since saidd a notice to clear the site was issued but not complied with.

Thanet District Council said officers visited the site in May 2017 and reported concerns about waste to the Environment Agency.

Residents have been to the site to give crews water and food.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known. There will be an investigation once it has been extinguished.

Photo John Horton

A Kent Police spokesman said: “Kent Police is continuing to liaise with Kent Fire and Rescue Service and other agencies to ensure an effective response and once the fire has been put out we will work alongside KFRS to establish the cause.”

Road closures

Photo Tyrone Keen

Star Lane closed at the junction of Star Lane Link road – this is likely to remain in place for at least two days.

Nash Road closed at the roundabout junction of Star Lane, will have access only for residents of Wherry Close from the roundabout, all other residents will access from the other end of Nash Lane (junction with Empire Terrace) – this will remain in place for at least two days.

Advice from Public Health England 

Photo Phil Fellows
  • People living and working in areas affected by smoke should stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.• Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.• Some of the substances present in smoke can irritate the lining of the nose, throat and lungs, the skin and the eyes. Symptoms may include coughing and wheezing, sore throat, feeling short of breath, runny nose or eyes or chest pain. In general, exposure to smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung or heart conditions.• People who are generally fit and well are unlikely to experience long-term health problems from temporary exposure to smoke from a fire.• The very young and very old, smokers, and people with flu or flu-like illnesses, may also be at greater risk after exposure to smoke from fires.• To minimise your exposure, limit the amount of time you spend outside in the smoke. People with asthma who may be in the vicinity of the fire should carry their inhaler.

    • If symptoms persist seek medical advice by calling NHS 111 or by contacting your General Practitioner (GP). If a medical consultant is already treating an existing health condition, discuss your concerns and symptoms with them. In the case of an emergency call 999.

For advice about smoke affected areas click here