Fire at composting site in Woodhurst could burn for another fortnight

Station commander Carl Pardon at Envar Composting. Picture: CFRS

Station commander Carl Pardon at Envar Composting. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant

A fire that has been burning for almost a month looks set to continue for another fortnight, the county’s fire service has said.

Thousands of tonnes of compost caught fire at Envar Composting, near Woodhurst, on December 31, with fire crews initially opting to monitor the blaze and let it burn out naturally.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service staff along with Environment Agency teams have made regular visits to the site, in Somersham Road, since then but, more than three weeks on, the blaze is still burning.

Residents in nearby Bluntisham have complained of the impact of smoke pouring from the fire over their properties and have criticised the decision to allow the fire to burn out.

One resident who contacted the Hunts Post said: “My main concern is the pollution this fire is causing, those poor people living in its smoke path. Surely it is time to put the fire out?”

Another added: “It has burning for [a number of] days, caused road closures and fills the air with foul smelling smoke. Is this good for our health or the environment?”

Today (Thursday) the fire service said the decision had been taken to change the approach to dealing with the fire, from defensive to offensive.

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Crews have been digging piles of compost out of the stacks using heavy machinery and are covering them in water before moving them on to another area of the site.

However, this method will see the fire continue to burn for another “10-15 days”.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “The current estimate from the site is around 10-15 days based on current conditions, however all attempts are being made to extinguish this as quickly as is possible. Fire crews will be making regular visits to the site.

“We are aware that this is not an ideal situation. The smoke and the odour are unpleasant for all the residents that have been impacted. Weather conditions have not helped the situation as staff cannot operate heavy machinery safely when smoke and steam is limiting visibility.

“While efforts are made to extinguish the fire, smoke and steam will still be generated from the site and may impact the surrounding area. Please be aware of this and take the necessary precautions of keeping doors and windows closed as required to reduce the impact.”