A disposable barbecue appears to have been the most likely cause of the fire at the rubbish tip in Brighton at the weekend, the fire service said today (Tuesday 27 August).
A full investigation is under way into the fire and its cause but the fire service said that so much rubbish was burnt that it would be hard to work out how the blaze started.
In a statement this afternoon East Sussex Fire and Rescue said: “Following on from a fire which took place at a waste transfer station at Hollingdean Lane in Brighton late on Sunday night (25 August), East Sussex Fire and Rescue would like to reassure the public that we are working closely with Veolia on fire safety management at their waste transfer sites.
“At 10.53pm, East Sussex Fire and Rescue attended the waste transfer station following reports of a fire.
“The facility, at Hollingdean Lane, Brighton, takes in household waste from the Brighton and Hove area
“Firefighters from Bexhill, Newhaven, Lewes, Roedean, Brighton, Heathfield, Crowborough, Seaford and Barcombe attended the scene.
“Three crews remained on site throughout the night to dampen down.
“As a precaution, residents living nearby were urged to keep their windows and doors closed until noon the following day, when the fire was extinguished.
“No injuries were reported and we inspected the site later on Monday with the incident closing at 4pm.”
Incident commander Tom Walby said: “Smoke from any fire will contain items that could cause irritation and affect breathing, especially in the elderly, those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
“The advice at the time of these incidents is always to stay indoors if possible and keep windows and doors shut, giving time for the smoke to clear.
“This advice was given during the fire, with the very hot weather and lack of any wind meaning the smoke took a long time to clear.
“If anybody still feels that their breathing has been affected they should speak to their medical practitioner.
“With all the rubbish within the premises completely destroyed by the fire, it is very difficult to establish a definitive cause.
“After consultation with the workers on site, the most likely cause will be due to a disposable barbecue being thrown away in a communal domestic waste bin.
“If these barbecues are not completely cold when thrown away, they can easily ignite other rubbish within the bin and the larger pile when the bin is emptied in the waste transfer station.
“We are working closely with Veolia on fire safety management within their premises.”
Veolia said: “We can confirm at 22.50 a fire broke out at our Hollingdean Waste Transfer Station.
“East Sussex Fire and Rescue were immediately called and the fire was brought under control.
“No one was injured and the fire service remains on site damping down waste materials.
“Veolia takes health and safety very seriously and a full investigation has been launched into this incident.”
Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We’d like to reassure residents that action is being taken following the fire at the waste depot in Hollingdean this weekend.
“The council contracts Veolia to manage the disposal of household waste in the city.
“We’re currently focused on limiting disruption to residents following the fire by making sure collections take place as planned.
“The fire involved household waste at Veolia’s transfer facility at Hollingdean. The materials were standard household waste from rubbish bins.
“The council followed the guidance from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service at all times during the incident and the fire service’s advice was shared to provide updates for residents.
“We also sought advice from Public Health England and their team agreed the fire service approach with regards to public health safety.
“The council and Veolia will be working together with partners to look at what happened and whether any action needs to be taken.”