‘Massive’ fire at Lawrence Recycling

A ‘massive fire’ has broken out at a Kidderminster recycling plant owned by recycling and waste management company, Lawrence.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was called to ‘The Forge’ at 5.20pm on Sunday (16 June), where seven fire engines and around 80 firefighters worked to tackle ‘several thousand’ tonnes of mixed recyclable materials that were alight.

Thousands of bales of mixed recyclable material – due to be shipped abroad for energy-from-waste applications – are still on fire at the site in Worcestershire, in an area around 2000 metres long and 80 metres wide.

Speaking to Resource, Area Commander from HWFRS, Jon Pryce said that there are currently four fire appliances, one high-volume pumping unit and ‘heavy machinery’ working to drag out materials from the burning building to extinguish it, but that as the fire is so large, and involves burning plastic, there was no thought of trying to fully extinguish it, as the water-run off would have a "massive environmental impact on water-ways". 

Environment Agency officers are on site to monitor the water and air quality near the facility.

Pryce said that as the bales are packed so tightly, the fire has taken the form of a slow burn, as there is little oxygen between the packs. He added that the service is putting out plastic material as it is noxious, but at the moment, the main issue is ‘controlling’ the fire.

“I anticipate we will continue with our current presence for the entire week, but a decision on how long we will stay and whether we will leave the fire as a controlled burn will be made at the end of the week”, he added.

Staff and machinery are currently dragging materials out of the building to be extinguished, but the efforts are being hampered as the structure is "severely damaged by fire".

Second fire in a year

The fire is the second to hit the Lawrence Recycling site in a year, after a blaze broke out in a large warehouse containing paper and plastic materials in December.

The fire service has said that this fire is ‘very different’ as this is not only much larger, but also deals with tightly-packed materials that are hard to get to, and hard to extinguish.

As such, the service has said that there is ‘not much’ they can do about it, and so they are mainly in attendance to ensure the fire does not spread.

Local residents are being asked to keep windows and doors shut, and are warned that there could be lingering residual smoke ‘for some time’, however, air quality is not thought to be ‘significantly’ affected.

An investigation into the cause of this fire has now been launched. The investigation into the December fire is ongoing.

Read more about Lawrence Recycling.