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North Bristol covered in dark smoke following Viridor waste centre fire

North Bristol has been engulfed in dark smoke after firefighters were called to the scene of a fire at the Viridor waste centre on Gloucester Road in Filton in the early hours of this morning (11 July).

The fire began at 00:42am this morning and firefighters were called to the scene soon after receiving reports of dark smoke emanating from the waste centre. It was revealed that the blaze began in a pile of waste housed in a 60 by 30-metre unit.

Residents in North Bristol were warned this morning to keep all of their windows and doors closed to keep out the dark smoke produced by the fire, and have been reminded to continue to do so as the fumes – confirmed by Environment Agency representatives today as only odorous and not toxic – remain over the area more than 12 hours after the fire broke out.

North Bristol covered in dark smoke following Viridor waste centre fire
The smoke from the fire could be seen for miles around the area

Commenting on the blaze, watch manager Chaz Cripps from Avon Fire and Rescue Service told the Bristol Post: “At present we are allowing the waste to burn in a safe way. In the early hours there was not a lot of wind and so we advised those living nearby to close their windows and doors. That remains the case until the smoke clears. There has not been a huge amount of damage, but we will remain on scene for some time.”

Although the fire has been brought under control, three fire engines remained at the site this morning to monitor the fire.

It is not yet clear what the cause of the fire was, although Avon and Somerset Police were present at the scene and investigations are ongoing.

Waste fires all too frequent

Fire services across the UK have been plagued with waste fires in the past few months, a fact that will hardly be welcomed by an industry that has just been named the second most dangerous in the UK by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Last month, 100 firefighters were dispatched to a fire at a SUEZ waste transfer station (17 June) in Cornwall, which took five hours to extinguish, while up to 50 firefighters were called to a fire at a warehouse storing 500 tonnes of wood chips owned by Rabbit Waste Management Ltd (11 June) in Lancing, West Sussex, while another fire involving 200 tonnes of scrap metal at MDJ Light Brothers in Lewes, East Sussex, caused the A27 to be closed for 12 hours on 25 May.

There are around 250 waste fires a year in the UK and cost fire and rescue services up to £16 million a year, according to the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA).

To combat this menace, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has announced the publication of updated guidance on the prevention of waste fires, following a series of waste burn tests carried out over the course of 2015 and 2016 to develop understanding and scientific knowledge of waste fires.

The new document provides informed guidance on details like stack sizes and separation distances and was officially launched at a waste fires seminar at the National Fire College at Moreton-in-Marsh on 23 June.

More information is available in a comment piece written by Mark Andrews, Waste Fires Lead, at the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, for Resource suggesting how the waste industry can reduce its fire risk and in WISH’s updated guidance on waste fire prevention.

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