Residents demand action over smouldering Northumberland brickworks

Residents are demanding action after smoke from the smouldering remains of a brickworks continued to cause problems

Kevin Temple

Residents were demanding action after smoke from the smouldering remains of a brickworks continued to cause problems.

It has been more than two months since Swarland Brickworks, in Thrunton, Northumberland was ravaged by a huge blaze that left the building a charred shell.

But, since then, the scene has continued to smoulder and residents are worried about the smoke and smell, which continues to affect their properties.

They are calling for a full smoke analysis after many suffered sore throats, headaches and coughing.

And it was a concern backed by Sir Alan Beith MP, who chaired a public meeting at Bolton Village Hall earlier this week.

Members of the community aired their grievances and asked questions of representatives from Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, the Environment Agency and Public Health Agency.

 

Sir Alan said: “I feel it is absolutely vital for the residents affected by the Thrunton fire to have the chance to put their questions to the authorities, which are responsible for public health and safety and to hear what plans are being made for the ongoing work to keep the fire under control and to put it out without contaminating the watercourse. Residents have been living with the smoke from the fire for ten weeks now and understandably they want to know how much longer the fire will be burning.

“I hope that the outcome of the meeting will be better communications with the residents and also offer some reassurance that the authorities are working hard to bring the situation to a conclusion. But I am still pursuing the request for smoke testing, which the residents have been asking for since the fire began.”

The key issue that affects how the incident control team deals with the site is that it sits on top of a water supply, which could become contaminated.

At the meeting, it did become clear that at some point a decision may need to be taken to sacrifice the water supply to get the fire out and then install a new water supply.

As previously reported in the Journal, more than 40 firefighters were called to tackle the major blaze at the mothballed brick manufacturing site in September. It was believed the huge fire started in a warehouse at the site.

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