Dozens of firefighters tackling huge recycling centre blaze

Emergency services were called to a blaze at commercial premises in Hockwold cum Wilton near Thetford.

Emergency services were called to a blaze at commercial premises in Hockwold cum Wilton near Thetford. - Credit: Thomas Chapman

More than 40 firefighters have been tackling a major blaze at a recycling centre in a Norfolk village.

Several crews were called to Cowle's Drove in Hockwold cum Wilton, near Brandon, just before 7.30am on Sunday morning.

Dark plumes of smoke could be seen for miles around as emergency services rushed to the scene from across East Anglia.

Firefighters were faced with a tough battle to bring the worst of the flames under control and isolate the fire to a storage area at Freedom Recycling Ltd. 

Aerial ladder of platforms and a drone were pressed into action to give them a better vantage point. 

Police blocked the road leading to the fire at a recycling centre in Hockwold, near Brandon

Police blocked the road leading to the fire at a recycling centre in Hockwold, near Brandon - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile, residents in the surrounding area were advised to keep their doors and windows closed. 

Andy Littler, station officer with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, praised his team for their rapid response. 

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"On arrival we were met by a large, fully-engulfed fire in a section of the storage area," said Mr Littler. 

Andy Littler, station officer with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service

Andy Littler, station officer with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service - Credit: Neil Didsbury

"The building was 60m by 40m and the blaze had spread to an external area where commercial waste was being stored.

"Through the quick actions of the initial crews, we managed to prevent the fire spreading to a further four sheds and we've managed to contain it." 

By Sunday afternoon, 15 fire crews had been joined by an incident command unit, two water carriers, two aerial ladders and a number of support vehicles.

Police blocked members of the public from accessing Cowle's Drove while units travelled back and forth to take on more water.

Ambulance vehicles were also in attendance, but there were not thought to be any injuries. 

Despite firefighters quelling the worst of the blaze by mid-afternoon, Mr Littler said he expected there to be some form of emergency response in Hockwold until Monday. 

Emergency services were called to a blaze at commercial premises in Hockwold cum Wilton near Thetford.

Emergency services were called to a blaze at commercial premises in Hockwold cum Wilton near Thetford. - Credit: Thomas Chapman

"Good progress has been made considering the scale and size of the fire, and I'm very impressed with the work fire crews have put in," he added.

"We've been supported by the site owners, who have been proactive in moving products and heavy machinery away.

"I would envisage crews will still be damping down for the next 24 hours and we're constantly reviewing the situation on an hourly basis."

An investigation into the cause of the fire will be carried out in due course. 

Police blocked the road leading to the fire at a recycling centre in Hockwold, near Brandon

Police blocked the road leading to the fire at a recycling centre in Hockwold, near Brandon - Credit: Archant