Residents frustrated by Northumberland warehouse blaze response

The still smouldering scene at Swarland Brickworks ,Thrunton.
The still smouldering scene at Swarland Brickworks ,Thrunton.

There appears to be no quick fix for the residents living near to the smouldering ruins of the warehouses at Swarland Brickworks near Thrunton.

The site was ravaged by a fire on Tuesday, September 3, and last night, 72 days since the blaze, residents voiced their concerns over the smell and smoke which continues to affect their properties and their health at a public meeting, chaired by Sir Alan Beith MP.

At Bolton Village Hall, 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.

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.

Particulate monitoring continues to take place, but the residents, backed by Sir Alan, are calling for full smoke analysis.

Kate Roe, deputy chief executive of the county council, read a statement out on behalf of the incident control team.

“We fully accept that the ongoing impact on the local community is a source of frustration and concern and is distressing,” she said.

Later in the meeting, Carole Cross, of Thrunton Residents Action Group, which organised the meeting, said: “A good proportion of us are suffering from sore throats, severe headaches and coughing.

“It’s not just a smell, it’s smoke that’s coming across our houses. There must be toxins in there.

“I don’t feel reassured in any way whatsoever that in 10 years’ time I’m not going to be in a hospital bed dying of cancer.

“Nobody can give us a guarantee and that’s why we are frustrated.”

BBC Look North broadcast live from the meeting on its 6.30pm bulletin last night.

For full story, see next Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.