Investigations are ongoing after fire at former pit site

Fire at the Whittle Colliery site.
Fire at the Whittle Colliery site.

Investigations are ongoing to explore the circumstances of a controlled burning at a former pit site after concerns were raised about the size of the blaze.

The incident occurred last Thursday evening at Whittle Colliery, just off the A1 south of Alnwick.

The Gazette has been told that the landowner, Nigel Weston Smith, had informed Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service about plans to burn off a structure at the site.

But members of the public were alarmed about the scale of the fire, believing it was out of control, and that smoke was going across the A1. Firefighters attended the scene and extinguished the blaze.

Assistant chief fire officer at Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, Stephen Richards, said: “We were contacted by the landowner a few hours beforehand about his plans for a controlled burn at the colliery, which he said involved a single-storey portable cabin broken into small piles. He also gave assurances about the precautions he was taking.

“By around 8pm, we were receiving calls from members of the public expressing their concern and an appliance attended to extinguish the fire, which was larger than expected.

“We are now liaising with the Environment Agency around the circumstances of the burning.”

The Gazette made every effort to speak to Mr Smith, but was unable to contact him.