Sefton Council have been working closely with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and partner agencies after a significant fire in the Hawthorne Road area of Bootle.
Fire crews were called to an industrial unit early on the morning of 20 August to find a building containing a large amount of waste on fire.
Access to the site to extinguish the fire was very difficult, resulting in parts of the building being removed.
A significant amount of Fire Service resources were committed to fighting the fire and local residents and businesses were subject to days of disruption and unpleasant conditions after smoke affected the surrounding area.
Sefton Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service worked closely with partners from the Environment Agency and Public Health England to minimise the risks to public health and restore normal conditions as soon as possible.
Sefton Council assisted firefighters by providing a digger to break up the refuse and transport it to open ground where the seats of fire could be extinguished.
A spokesman for Sefton Council said:
“We continue to assist Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in dealing the fire and will continue to do so until it is fully extinguished.
“We are also currently reviewing how waste management is handled on private sites in relation to this incident and across the borough.
“Sefton Council continues to work with partner agencies including Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and the Environment Agency to address how incidents like this can be prevented in the future.”
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has been proactive in supporting local authorities and the Environment Agency regarding the poor management of waste sites over many years – large waste fires of this type are not unique to Merseyside and are in fact a national problem.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will be engaging with local businesses and the community to prevent fires of this type through the early identification of potential risks and problem sites.
Arson Officers and Business Safety Advisors will be visiting light industrial areas within Sefton to identify potentially problematic sites and will engage with local businesses to identify emerging risks at an early stage and undertake arson risk assessments where appropriate. Local Fire Stations will undertake operational audits of businesses in the area.
A multi-agency debrief will take place and lessons learned will inform the development of a robust, coordinated and ongoing strategy to prevent fires of this type as we move forward.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Group Manager, Gary Oakford said:
“Large waste fires such as this are a problem not only in Merseyside, but nationally.
“Poorly managed waste sites are an accident waiting to happen and we have been working proactively with partner organisations over many years to reduce the risk of these fires.
“We will be committing significant resources across the business community in the area over coming weeks to identify any potential risks and prevent fires of this type which are highly disruptive and of great concern to residents and businesses.
“We would like to thank the public for their patience at this time and for observing the minor traffic diversions, we have also worked hard to ensure continuity to local businesses.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said:
“This is an abandoned site with no environmental permit.
“The Environment Agency as the regulatory body have given advice and guidance to the landowner to make the site safe and to clear the waste.
“The company and directors are currently part of an ongoing investigation.
“The Environment Agency will continue to work with partners including Merseyside Fire and Rescue and Sefton Council to minimise harm to the local community and environment.”
For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over or those referred by partner agencies.