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Norfolk company praises firefighters after warehouse blaze

PUBLISHED: 11:14 19 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:59 19 February 2018

The aftermath of the blaze in North Walsham. Picture: BlueSky UAV Specialists

The aftermath of the blaze in North Walsham. Picture: BlueSky UAV Specialists

Archant

The director of an environmental services company has praised the fire service after a huge fire tore through one of its warehouses at an industrial estate.

A fire has broken out at North Walsham Industrial Estate. Picture: Will StarlingA fire has broken out at North Walsham Industrial Estate. Picture: Will Starling

The director of Drury’s Environmental Services, Kevin Robotham, said fire crews did a “splendid job” at containing the blaze that erupted in the company’s waste recycling warehouse in North Walsham on Saturday night.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said that at the height of the blaze, 10 fire engines from across the county were on the scene as well as 60 firefighters.

They were called at around 9.30pm but it was not until the early hours of Sunday morning that the flames were brought under control.

Mr Robotham said a combination of containment by the fire brigade and fire protection walls within the warehouse prevented it from being far more severe.

Around 60 firefighters are tackling a blaze at North Walsham Industrial Estate. Picture: Matthew KnowlesAround 60 firefighters are tackling a blaze at North Walsham Industrial Estate. Picture: Matthew Knowles

“I would like to thank the fire brigade and our staff and neighbours who all pulled together when they saw what was happening,” he said.

“Fortunately there were no injuries and no fatalities but we did suffer a lot of damage to equipment, including machinery and lorries, which will be at a fairly substantial financial cost to the company.”

The cause of the fire is not known but an investigation team will attend the site on Monday and try to establish how it began.

Mr Robotham added that the company held an operational meeting on Sunday morning and invoked a disaster recovery plan, which should have the company operating as normally as possible on Monday.

The fire in North Walsham on the weekend. Picture: Sonya DuncanThe fire in North Walsham on the weekend. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“We’ve lost a lot of equipment and we’ve got an area of the site that we can’t use but we’ve been calling in favours from neighbours and other waste companies and that is helping us get back to normal,” he said.

The warehouse was filled with recycling material, such as cardboard, wood and plastics, and on Sunday morning smoke was still billowing from the building.

It is expected to continue to do so for the next few days but the environment agency told the company that any risk of pollution to the nearby area has been contained.

Drury’s has been operating in Norfolk for almost 75 years and in North Walsham since the 1980s. Along with its waste recycling business, it operates services such as skip hire and long distance transport.

Fire continues to smoulder at Drurys in North Wlasham.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018Fire continues to smoulder at Drurys in North Wlasham. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Witness describes the moment he called emergency services

A resident, who did not wish to be named, described the moment he called the emergency services on Saturday night after witnessing the huge blaze spreading through the warehouse.

“I live near to the site and was coming home at around 9.30pm,” he said.

“Usually there is a large spotlight turned on which lights up much of the area but as I got closer I saw that instead there was a strange red glow coming from the Drury’s site.

“As soon as I realised what it was, I called the emergency services and told them they are definitely going to need more than one pump for this one.”

He then watched as the huge inferno, which had engulfed the warehouse, began to spread to a nearby lorry and described the flames as being “well above” the height of the buildings.

Soon after, 10 fire engines and 60 firefighters were tackling the fire which was not contained until nearly 6am.

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