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‘Major’ fire shuts down operations at Palm Paper plant

One person was taken to hospital after a ‘major’ fire shut down a paper reprocessing plant in Norfolk this weekend. Fortunately, the sprinkler system kicked in when the fire started, meaning the blaze was confined to a small area of the plant.

Firefighters were called to Palm Recycling’s paper recycling facility on the Saddlebow Industrial Estate near King’s Lynn at 2.10pm on Friday (7 October).

At its height, the fire, which took hold of four bales of papers in the facility’s processing plant, needed more than 100 firefighters on site from 12 fire brigades.

Describing the fire, Norfolk’s Chief Fire Officer Roy Harold said: “We were called to reports of a fire in a paper bale, which is a big roll of paper on a winding drum in the processing plant.

“Huge sheets of paper are wound onto this giant roll of paper, which is like a hay bale. The sprinkler system went off and stopped the fire spreading to the rest of the building, but the fire was inside the machinery which was hard to get to.”

A video taken by fire fighter Peter Greeves (below) shows the bales of paper being taken over by the blaze. Crew manager Paul Edwards told local radio station KL.FM 96.7: “These rolls of paper that were on fire are huge. If I could equate it to the size of a small bus or a single decker coach, so you're looking at the region of 10 to 12 metres long, weighing about 40 tonnes.

“Due to the nature of these tightly-wound bales of paper, we will have crews on site for at least another couple of days.”

The East of England ambulance service has said that one person was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn due to smoke inhalation, but that there were no serious injuries, while Harold said that there should be no damaging effect on nearby residents as a result of the fire: “Because of the wind direction the smoke from the fire was blown away from the town – it’s paper, so it was not a toxic plume.”

One fire crew remains at the site this morning to monitor paper still being stored nearby.

Palm Recycling is the UK’s largest producer of newsprint and also provides extensive recycling facilities for the newspaper industry, collecting and reprocessing over 2,000 tonnes of fibre from regional and national pressrooms a week.

It moved its head office to King’s Lynn from Ellesmere Port in Cheshire last October. 

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