The Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service has given advice to the operators of Westridge Skip Hire to assist them in carrying out the safe controlled rapid burning of 600 tonnes of wood at their site off Briddlesford Road near Newport, which has been smouldering since last weekend.
If left, the wood could continue to smoulder for several weeks – and extinguishing it is not possible, due to the amount of contaminated water run off that would enter nearby water courses. However, a controlled rapid burning carried out by the operators of the site, with suitable safety and control measures in place, is anticipated to draw the incident to a close within days.
Graham Orchard, protection manager for the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“We have visited the site several times since last weekend to assess the situation and give advice to the site operator. We feel a controlled burn of the remaining wood pile on site is an appropriate way to resolve the incident. We have been working with Westridge Skip Hire to agree the safety precautions to be put in place to allow this operation to be carried out safely, however there is likely to be an increased level of smoke in the area as this operation is undertaken and we would ask residents to be aware of this when visiting or passing through the area.”
Council environmental health officers will be monitoring the controlled burning over the coming days and providing additional advice to the owner of the site. The wood is categorised as grade A (untreated and not painted) and so will not release toxins.
Local residents are being informed about the operation – and motorists using roads in the area and people wishing to use the nearby Lynnbottom civic amenity site are being asked to take account of any roadside notices and public information advice. The civic amenity site will remain open unless otherwise notified.
Amanda Gregory, regulatory services manager for the council, said:
“We are concerned about the impact of continued smouldering of wood on the site for several weeks, both in terms of air quality for nearby homes and businesses and safety issues relating to visibility on nearby roads. We have received a number of complaints from residents who are concerned about the effects of the smoke.
“We feel a controlled rapid burn of the remaining wood fuel on site will lead to a swift resolution of this ongoing incident.”
Residents have been reassured by Public Health that the process that Westridge Skip Hire is undertaking aims to reduce the amount of smoke from the burning wood. However, residents are advised to keep their windows closed if the smoke temporarily affects their property. This is particularly important for those who suffer from chronic respiratory problems.