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Massive fire at North Runcton, near King’s Lynn has not caused contamination

A drone photograph of the fire in January.

A drone photograph of the fire in January.

Archant

Land around a massive fire at an illegal timber dump has not been contaminated by the blaze.

The fire at North Runcton can be seen from miles away. Picture: Ian Burt The fire at North Runcton can be seen from miles away. Picture: Ian Burt

Fire crews from across Norfolk were called to North Runcton, near King’s Lynn, when the wood pile at Manor Farm caught light on January 21.

It took more than 70 firefighters to bring the blaze under control, while the 15m-high stack continued burning for weeks. Parts of it were still smouldering three weeks ago.

West Norfolk council launched an investigation into whether the fire had contaminated the site.

A report by environmental health officials published today said: “An assessment was carried out to see if there could be harm from the ash left from the fire. The investigation showed that the land was not contaminated land. And it does not pose an immediate risk to human health, to water, property or the wider environment. A multi-agency group is deciding what will happen to the site in the future.”

The fire in North Runcton is still alight. Picture: Ian Burt The fire in North Runcton is still alight. Picture: Ian Burt

Samples of ash were taken and analysed for contaminants including heavy metals, dioxins and asbestos.

“Where contaminants were detected in the ash samples by the laboratory, the results were compared to acceptable levels for residential and commercial land for receptors located on the site,” says the report. “The laboratory analysis showed that the levels of contaminants in the ash were not likely to be harmful to human health or to water.”
The report adds asbestos was not found. It says once the fire was managed, the levels of dust near houses were not high.

“Based on the most recent investigation, the risk to people, crops, produce, livestock, animals and buildings was assessed as low,” it says. “Health advice is still to close doors and windows if there is ever a strong odour or severe dust from Manor Farm.”

Background papers say wood was stored “in one mountainous heap with no fire breaks”. They add: “The site has no environmental permit nor planning permission authorising the waste activities taking place. The site is therefore illegal and has been subject to a joint prosecution between the Environment Agency for waste offences and Norfolk County Council for breaches of planning law.”

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