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Smoke warning as works starts to extinguish large bonfire


Date: 10th September, 2017

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is returning to the site of a former hotel in Swindon this afternoon (10 September) in a bid to fully extinguish a large bonfire.

Significant amounts of demolition waste from the derelict Mercure Hotel on Old Vicarage Lane, South Marston have been burning out under control since early yesterday.

Although there is nothing harmful in the waste, local residents – especially anyone with a pre-existing respiratory condition – have been advised to keep doors and windows closed as a precaution, due to the amounts of smoke.

A site meeting between the Service, Swindon Borough Council, the Environment Agency, Wiltshire Police and Public Health England was convened earlier today to discuss whether intervention was required.

Group Manager Dave Jacomb, from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “As the wind has changed direction, and the smoke plume is now being driven over local homes rather than away from the site, it was agreed that we should work to bring this fire to a close sooner rather than later. This will mean, in the short term, an increase in smoke as we break our way into the stack to fight the fire, but leaving this bonfire to burn out could see smoke for up to a week.”

Over the course of this afternoon, three fire crews will tackle the blaze, supported by on-site contractors who will use their heavy machinery to move unaffected waste and break up the pile. A water carrier and an incident command vehicle will also be mobilised.

Firefighting is expected to continue until about 7pm tonight and will then resume at 9am tomorrow (11 September).

Mr Jacomb said: “We apologise to any local residents who are affected by smoke as we fight this fire; however, the decision to intervene has been made by all of the agencies involved, as leaving the fire to burn out under control would create more of an issue for the community over a longer period of time.”

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