Children arrested over Westwood industrial unit blaze will not face charges

Ashes and rubble left behind at the Westwood Industrial Estate unit Photo Frank Leppard

Three 12-year-olds from Margate arrested on suspicion of arson following a 25 day blaze at a Westwood Industrial Estate unit will not be charged.

Kent Police have confirmed the boy and two girls will not face charges but the investigation into the cause of the fire at the former Hilger Analytical unit is still being investigated,

A 13-year-old girl from Margate who was also arrested was told she would not face charges in December.

A Kent Police spokesman said: “”All suspects have now been released without charge. Enquiries are ongoing.”

The Westwood fire Photo John Horton

Fire crews were called to the former Hilger Analytical unit after 16,000 bales of illegally stored household waste caught fire on September 15.

At the height of the inferno 14 fire engines and 80 firefighters were at the scene. Northdown Primary was closed due to “unsafe carbon monoxide readings,” and there were reports of Thanet children complaining of health problems including chest infections and asthma attacks.

Firefighters remained at the site for three weeks as the two-tonne bales, tightly wrapped in plastic, continued to smoulder.

Neighbouring businesses, including fitness centre CrossFit, were forced to close as the fumes continued to pollute the air.

Mounds of debris pile up at the Westwood site. Photo: Frank Leppard

The site owner Conservation Property Holdings, registered in the British Virgin Islands and business rate holder DW Lands are yet to clear the site. They have also been ordered by Thanet council to secure the premises.

Photo Tyrone Keen

A spokesman for the firm claimed they had rented the property out and  RDF (Refuse-derived fuel) was stored at the unit after a lease was signed.

Business rate holder DW Lands, based in Honiton, Devon, was issued an enforcement notice in May requesting they remove the waste. The Environment Agency says this notice was “ignored.”

Photo Jane Harmer

The firm’s director David Weeks of Stoke Gabriel, claimed he was merely acting on behalf of a tenant but The Isle of Thanet News has seen no confirmation of this.

An Environment Agency investigation into the illegally stored waste is also ongoing. A spokesman said: “Our focus is on requiring removal of all waste from the premises.  It is the operator’s and then the landowner’s responsibility to clear up the site.

“We continue to carry out regular site inspections and all available regulatory powers are being used to ensure the site is cleared as soon as possible.”

The Westwood industrial unit blaze Image Simon Moores

Anyone with information about the fire can contact police on 01843 222289 quoting 46/ZY/55179/18. Alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


  1. Enquiries ongoing, investigation ongoing! Is that their way of saying nothing further is to be done? It was ongoing before it was set alight but nothing happened then either.
    Why doesn’t enforcement act, or the environment authority get it cleared up and charge the company. If they don’t pay-up blacklist the directors and CEO.

  2. I don’t know if this will help the investigation but I would think the fire started from a small flame being held close to a combustible material of some kind.

  3. But did those children light it ?………..
    Will we ever know the truth…?
    They may not have been charged, due to the Police not being able to secure sufficient evidence or confessions…..But……..

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