Fire service defends decision to allow compost blaze to burn out amid concern from neighbours

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant

The fire service has responded to criticism of its decision to allow a fire at a composting facility in Woodhurst to burn itself out.

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant

Firefighters were called to Envar Composting, in Somersham Road, at about 6pm on December 31 and arrived to find a compost heap measuring about 20m by 10m aflame.

According to a spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, the crew left the scene later that day and the fire was left to burn out under the supervision of site staff.

By January 2, the fire had developed, and the service increased its presence onsite.

The fire was affecting 4,500 square meters, involving approximately 3,000 tonnes of waste.

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant


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Regular visits have been made to the site by fire crews since then, with the compost still smouldering after more than a week.

Neighbours of the site have expressed concern at the decision to allow the fire to burn itself out, however, saying that smoke from the site was causing pollution and affecting nearby homeowners.

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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?”

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS

The fire at Envar Composting in Woodhurst. Picture: CFRS - Credit: Archant

Responding to the concerns, a spokesman for the fire service said: “Our crews are continuing to inspect the fire at Envar Composting and are working with onsite staff to allow the fire to burn out safely. Regular visits are being made to the site and will continue over the coming days.

“Since the fire started we have been working closely with other agencies to ensure the fire is dealt with in the safest way possible. Due to the firefighting tactics being employed there will be periods of time when smoke will be visible from the site.

“Residents that are affected by the smoke are advised to keep their doors and windows closed to help reduce any impact.”

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