Four children arrested in connection with Westwood industrial unit fire

Photo KFRS

Four children have been arrested in connection with a large fire at a warehouse in Margate.

Officers were called to the former Cummins unit on Westwood Industrial Estate at 6.55am on Saturday 15 September to support Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS).

Kent Police has continued to liaise with KFRS and other agencies since the incident to establish the cause.

On Sunday 23 September a boy and two girls, all aged 12 from Margate, and a 13-year-old girl from Margate were arrested on suspicion of arson. They have subsequently been released pending further investigation.

At the height of the fire there were 80 firefighters, 14 engines and specialist vehicles on the scene.

Photo John Horton

Acrid smoke from the blaze has covered Westwood and Margate, and even further afield, throughout the six days it has been burning. Northdown Primary was closed due to “unsafe carbon monoxide readings.”

The Westwood unit was packed with 6,000 bales of the waste, according to the Environment Agency. The bales are made up of Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) which is  largely combustible components of such waste as non recyclable plastics (not including PVC), paper cardboard, labels, and other corrugated materials.

Fears that the site was a potential fire hazard due to the waste in the building were raised in a BBC report in January.

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

Photo Tyrone Keen

Fears have also been raised over asbestos at the site. Although this is yet to be officially confirmed there is a Thanet council building control notice from February this year which describes the unit as a “vandalised building containing asbestos and possible toxic waste.” The status of the notice is marked as ‘pending consideration.’

A business rates document compiled by Thanet council and updated in June of this year reveals the company listed as holding the rates account for the unit at Westwood Industrial Estate that has been burning for six days is Devon-based DW Land Ltd.

The company is listed as occupying Unit P/CIL Unit P as of January 1, 2017, with uses described as workshop and premises and factory and premises.

Photo Tyrone Keen

The data lists the rateable value for 2017 as a total of £177,600.

The director of DW Land Ltd, David Weeks, is named as the person with significant control of the company on Companies House as of January 18, 2018.

Photo David Rankin

A spokesman for the unit owner, British Virgin Islands company Conservation Property Holdings, claimed this week that it had rented the property out to the firm. Spokesman Biju Ramakrishnan claimed RDF (Refuse-derived fuel) was stored at the unit after a lease was signed.