Firefighters to remain at Westwood Industrial Estate blaze until late October

The Westwood industrial unit blaze Image Simon Moores

Firefighters battling a blaze at the former Cummins unit on Westwood Industrial Estate which broke out on the morning of September 15 are expected to remain on site until late October.

The fire is fuelled by Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) made up of largely of combustible components of such waste, as non recyclable plastics (not including PVC), paper cardboard, labels, and other corrugated materials.

The Westwood unit was packed with 6,000 bales of the waste which crews have had to drag out of the fire zone, dampen down, turn over and check for hot spots.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has thanked the community for their patience and support while crews work hard to make the area safe.

Four children have been arrested in connection with the fire.

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.

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.”

Photo David Rankin

A spokesman said: “As with any large fire the Environment Agency and Public Health England work with the fire service to assess the impacts of smoke and whether or not it is necessary to monitor air quality.

“Various factors are taken into account including the nature of the fire, weather conditions and whether or not the smoke plume is at ground level. In the initial stages of this fire it was felt there was no need to monitor air quality and for people to follow existing public health advice. All agencies and local authorities remain in regular contact to monitor and review the situation.”

Throughout the incident KFRS has worked  with Kent Police, Public Health England, Environment Agency, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The Environment Agency has confirmed it is investigation and that there was no licence issued to store waste at the site.

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.

Smoke over Westwood during the blaze Photo Phil Fellows

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.

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.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Kathy, are you able to get up-to-date information on the authorities monitoring the smoke as all we hear is the same stuff which they issued when it first started. Things have moved on and crops in the fields have been coated with the poisons emitted in the smoke plumes that have hugged the ground in all directions as the wind has blown. We have heard nothing on whether they will be affected for human consumption.
    There hasn’t been anything much said about the hundreds of local people getting breathing problems and cold like symptoms either. Surely the toxic smoke should be monitored and public announcements made weekly on what is happening, etc !
    I appreciate your involvement in trying to get the news over to us but I feel there should be more done in these circumstances to inform the public in Thanet by these authorities. They shouldn’t ignore us.

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