Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
A recycling unit in March has been destroyed in a massive fire which could be seen from up to 15 miles away.
Firefighters from across the Fens were called to tackle the blaze which gutted an industrial unit at Creek Fen, March.
The fire broke out shortly before 6pm and it is thought the workforce had gone home for the night.
Up to 12 fire crews were called to the scene and police stopped dozens of sightseers from trying to get close.
Plumes of smoke wafted across the Fenland skies prompting Cambs fire chiefs to issue an urgent warning for people to shut their windows.
Crews battled for more than three and a half hours to put out the fire before returning to their stations at 9.30pm.
The building where the fire started was part of a block of three units on what is known locally as Creek Fen Business Park.
The fire is believed to have started in one of the units which have recently been used for recycling.
A fire investigation is being carried out to determine the cause of the fire.
The recycling unit had moved from Westry where it had occupied part of a double set of industrial units previously owned by Councillor Jan French.
Ironically the Westry buildings had been sold earlier this year to former gangmaster Roberto Mac before his business collapsed after the Gangmasters Licensing Authority withdrew his permit. Although most of his vehicles have long since gone, some were being stored at the Creek Fen park but it is thought none were damaged by tonight’s fire.
Cambs fire brought in extra water supplies to tackle the blaze after discovering issues with one of the hydrants along Creek Fen.
Crews from March, Chatteris, Whittlesey and Huntingdon were called to the scene and a command post set up to assess the damage and determine how long crews would need to stay on site.
Fire crews stopped the fire from spreading to nearby properties that included a small office block less than 300 metres away: the office had previously been subject to a failed planning application by owner Geoff Lord to convert it to a bungalow.
One resident said he was dismayed so many people had turned up to see the fire and in so doing had possibly hampered some emergency crews from getting through.
“There are so many cars turning up in Creek Fen if you come down stay out of the way,” he said.
Fire crews quickly removed gas containers from the area and vehicles – including a fork lift- were taken to safety.
Group Commander Sean Brown, the officer in charge of the incident, said: “The crews arrived to find a fire in a factory unit containing recycling material. The premises was closed for the night so no staff needed evacuating.
“More resource was quickly requested to stop the fire spreading to other nearby units. The crews did a fantastic job by acting quickly and decisively to ensure the fire didn’t spread.
“This is a timely reminder or factory and business owners to ensure their fire risk assessments are up to date and reviewed regularly. Our Fire Protection team holds regular seminars for businesses to provide information about fire safety in the workplace. Further information is available at http://www.cambsfire.gov.uk/firesafety/workplace-fire-safety.php