Chichester tip fire: Council's safety message to residents

Picture via West Sussex County Council
Picture via West Sussex County Council

Following a large fire at Westhampnett tip on Tuesday (April 2) the county council has provided an update and has given advice to residents in the area.

Fire crews continue to attend the scene in Stane Street and have said the fire could take 'several more days' to burn out.

Read more: Fire crews remain at Chichester tip fire
Jon Lacey, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service area manager for risk and improvements, said: “This fire is difficult to tackle because the material is highly flammable. With several hundred tonnes of household waste involved, the fire is burning slowly and is difficult to extinguish.

"At Westhampnett we have the added problem of the waste being inside a building which has suffered damage. This restricts safe access and also slows down the rate of burn.

Read more: Tip management company reveals likely cause of large Chichester fire
“Additionally the site is alongside Westhampnett Lake and we are concerned that run-off of the large volume of water which would be needed to tackle the fire, does not cause serious contamination to the water courses which flow down to Pagham Harbour, a sensitive ecosystem.

“Our strategy has been to contain the fire while the wind direction has largely allowed the smoke to disperse across open land. However, mindful that we need to try and prevent smoke affecting residents and businesses, we have explored ways to tackle the blaze with minimum risk of contamination.”

Smoke issuing from the building on Tuesday night

Smoke issuing from the building on Tuesday night

Read more: Watch dramatic aerial drone video footage of the Chichester tip fire
Advice from West Sussex County Council to residents living in the area is not to be concerned if they smell smoke in the air this weekend.

The advice from Public Health England is where the smell of smoke is detected, to stay indoors where possible and keep windows and doors closed. Exposure to smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung and heart conditions and if any symptoms persist to call NHS 111 or contact your GP.

Read more: 'Hellish inferno': Westhampnett fire witnesses on what they saw
Steve Read, Director of Energy, Waste and Environment at West Sussex County Council said: “There is a risk that some residents in the Chichester area could be affected by a smoky smell from this Friday afternoon into the weekend.

“We apologise for any concern this causes and assure residents and businesses we have explored all avenues to reduce the impact of the blaze.”

Read more: See dramatic pictures of Chichester tip fire
A spokesman for the site's management company, Viridor, said earlier this week that a likely cause of the blaze is lithium ion batteries which are found in mobile phones, laptops, toys and other items.

Staff are looking to restore a minimum service at Westhampnett as soon as practical but it is likely to be next week at the earliest before we can say when that will be.

If necessary, the nearest alternative sites are Bognor Regis, which will be open seven days a week for the time being, Worthing, Billingshurst and Littlehampton. Please note Bognor and Littlehampton are not able to accept trailers.

Read more: Large fire in Chichester