5,000 tonne Mountnessing fire still burning after ten days

Picture by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Picture by Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

First published in News

A LARGE wood fire in Mountnessing shows no signs of stopping, TEN DAYS after it began.

The woodpile, in Thoby Lane, estimated to weigh about 5,000 tonnes, is being monitored by fire crews as it has since it started on Monday, August 18, as they allow a controlled burn.

And as the fire burned for a fifth consecutive day, it emerged that Mountnessing Parish Council had raised concerns over the size of the woodpile just weeks before the blaze broke out.

Crews haven’t been able to predict when the fire will stop, due to how densely packed the wood is.

It’s thought woodchip is buried in the ground with the scrap timber piled on top, covering a huge area of 50 metres.

Environment Agency representatives and Brentwood and Ongar MP Eric Pickles visited the site after concerns were raised water running away from the fire would contaminate land and waterways.

Around 100 fish are thought to have died after the oxygen levels in the nearby River Wid depleted after contaminated water entered it. Eight aerators have now been installed in the water to restore oxygen levels and help local wildlife.

Nearby residents and businesses have been advised to keep their windows and doors shut since the fire began, and a nearby boating lake, which crews have been using to douse the blaze, has had to be replenished.

At least four pumps have been on site since last Monday. At its height, nine crews were on site along with an aerial ladder fire engine.

Frank Saunders, incident controller from the agency, said: “We are working closely with the fire service to ensure the environmental impact from this fire is kept to a minimum. Our officers have been on site and are working with fire water crews on the ground.”

Mr Pickles vowed that those responsible for allowing this situation to arise would have action taken against them.

He said: “The effects of the fire in the woodpile are many, and while appropriate action is being taken to contain the flames and potential contamination, I am also aware action will be taken against those responsible for allowing this situation to arise.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Hill said: “The controlled burn is likely last longer than the seven days first reported.

“We are working closely with the Environment Agency to limit the environmental impact of the fire and have now set up a system in which water running off from the fire is recycled and re-used to douse the flames. This not only reduces the amount of water we use it also prevent run-off from entering the water course.”

Barry Aspinell, Brentwood Council leader, himself an ex-firefighter, said: “We understand the inconvenience this is causing but I’m sure people appreciate the fire service are doing all they can to deal with the situation with the safety of those in the area in mind.”

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