'Serious concerns' over smoke from tyre plant fire
- Credit: Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service
Calls have been made for the Environment Agency to explore the cause of a fire that released masses of black smoke into the air.
The large blaze at the Murfitts tyre recycling plant in Lakenheath on Saturday, January 30, led to concerns over the environmental impact, as the site is near RSPB Lakenheath Fen reserve.
When fire crews arrived at the site in Station Road about 40 tonnes of shredded tyre waste was well alight, with a thick plume of black smoke overhead.
As well as concerns over the environment, fears were expressed about the impact of the fumes on populated areas.
It is understood the smoke dissipated later in the day after the blaze began at about 8.45am.
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A spokesperson for Murfitts said: “We thank the fire service for their prompt response to the incident at our site.
"As the largest tyre recycler in the UK, we have invested significantly in safety processes and training.
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"As a result our team followed our strict protocols which were instrumental in bringing the fire under control within an hour.
"At no point was anyone in any danger but we are carrying out a full investigation into the cause of the fire. In the meantime, the site has been given the all clear by the fire service to recommence operations.”
Lesley Randall, chairperson of Hockwold cum Wilton Parish Council, said: "There are serious concerns for public health if the smoke continues for any length of time or directs itself towards the nearby populated areas.
"There are also concerns regarding the environmental impact, particularly due to the proximity of the Little Ouse river and the RSPB Lakenheath (a popular venue for daily exercise during lockdown) which has already advised people to stay away from the area because of the fire.
"It is hoped that the Environment Agency will look into the cause of the fire and its possible negative impact on the surrounding area."
The scale of the fire meant about 14 crews were involved in tackling it, with it being brought under control by 7.35pm.
District councillor Stephen Frost, who represents Lakenheath, was among those to express worries over the smoke.
He added: "Accidents happen. When accidents happen, it's what you do to mitigate and put things right. My main concern was people's health and the wildlife up there."
On Saturday, district councillor Brian Harvey, chairman of West Suffolk Council, was trying to alert people to the spreading smoke.
Murfitts relocated to Lakenheath 11 years ago after a major fire at Littleport, near Ely.
The company retained the Littleport site, but it never again became operational.