Recycled IT waste fire forces over 20 residents from their homes

Recycled IT waste fire forces over 20 residents from their homes
Twenty people were forced from their homes following damage caused by a blaze that started in an industrial container of recycled computer parts yesterday (7 May).

Eight engines from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) responded to a call to waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycler ViroGreen’s site on Wardley Industrial Estate, Worsley, just before midnight on Saturday.

The fire, which the GMFRS says involved a ‘large quantity of recycled computer parts’ brought down a power line, damage from which caused nearby homes to be evacuated and the train line between Manchester and Wigan to be temporarily closed.

Residents were given temporary accommodation by the local Emergency Planning Officer.

A statement from the fire service read: “At 23:11 on 6 May eight fire engines from Greater Manchester along with the Technical Response Unit and Major Rescue Unit from Leigh and the command vehicle from Rochdale attended a fire at a commercial property on Holloway Drive, Worlsey.

The fire was involving large quantity of recyclable electrical equipment. Fire service used two jets, two monitors, one aerial monitor, mats, pumps and a thermal scanner. Fire service remained on scene for several hours.”

A joint investigation by GMFRS and the Greater Manchester Police has now been opened to establish what caused the fire, with the police saying that the possibility of arson is being looked into.

Virogreen is a Singapore-based IT recycling company with sites in Hong Kong, Thailand, India and the USA, as well as its UK company based in Worsely. It offers end of life computer collection, disposal and secure data destruction services.

A spokesperson for the company said that the site is still operational and is accepting incoming deliveries.

New guidance seeking to aid prevention of waste fires

News of this latest waste fire comes a week after the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum announced the publication of updated guidance for waste operators on the prevention of waste fires.

Recycled IT waste fire forces over 20 residents from their homes
According to the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), there have been around 250 incidents of waste fires per year for the last decade, with an estimated cost to fire and rescue services of around £16 million a year.

The new guidance incorporates the results of a series of waste burn tests that, over the course of 2015 and 2016, have contributed to the development of understanding and knowledge of waste fires.

Chair of the WISH waste fires working group Geoff Smallwood said: “When we released our first waste guidance back in 2014 we acknowledged it would need revising as understanding and knowledge about waste fires developed. Key in this development of understanding has been the waste burn tests conducted through 2015 and 2016. To our knowledge these are the most extensive series of waste burn tests ever conducted.

“Our industry is still recording too many fires each year. This has to change, and we believe the new, revised WISH fires guidance is a key step to reducing fire risk at waste management sites.”

Guidance and information on the fire tests can be read on the WISH Forum website.

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