Watch: Hot oily rags spark major blaze

The scene from the air above Ewelme on Saturday evening

The scene from the air above Ewelme on Saturday evening

First published in News
Last updated

HOT weather caused a massive blaze at a South Oxfordshire hazardous chemicals recycling depot at the weekend, fire bosses said.

Oily rags ready for disposal were ignited by 21C temperatures at Grundon Waste Management Ltd, Ewelme, near Benson, investigators found.

Plumes of thick black smoke were seen across the district and residents in nearby villages were warned to shut their windows.

About 75 firefighters and 10 fire engines attended the Goulds Grove blaze – reported at 7.20pm on Saturday – and put it out by 3am.

It was contained within a waste sorting building which had fireproof walls and stores items like lithium batteries.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Grahame Mitchell, below, said: “You need a lot of things to be present for it to happen, including oily rags, exposure to sunlight and a hot day. It’s quite rare but not unheard of.”

He said the building was destroyed with the roof burnt through.

Residents within a three-mile radius including Ipsden, Nuffield, Britwell Salome and Huntercombe were urged to shut their windows.

Benson and Wallingford were not affected due to wind patterns, fire commanders said.

Waste staff were present and paramedics attended but no-one required treatment. Environment Agency fume tests found no danger to health.

Volunteers from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church rapid response team provided food and drinks to about 100 emergency staff.

Jo Goddard, 45, of Beggarsbush Hill, near Benson, said: “You could taste it. It kind of made your mouth feel all dry. But it wasn’t like the smell of tyres or plastic.”

Oxford Mail:

Fire crews at the waste plant yesterday

David Reynolds, 34, of The Street, Ewelme, said: “At first I was quite worried, because I know they deal with hazardous waste up there.

“But there wasn’t a panic or anything. I’m just glad it’s out now and no-one was hurt.”

The firm – which in 2012 said the depot processes 7,500 tonnes a year – could not be reached for comment.

Incident commander Nigel Wilson said firefighters on a 10am to 5pm strike would have returned to work had the blaze fallen in that time.

He said an agreement was in place for those on strike over pay and pensions to return for a “serious incident”.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Mail reader Lu Anthony captured this dramatic shot of thick black smoke rising from one of the buildings at the waste plant

Non-striking crews attended all 999 calls, a minor collision on the A34, a person locked in a property in Witney; an Eynsham car fire; a first aid call to Lord Williams's School, Thame, and a child stuck up a tree in Banbury.

Our top stories:

Update: Murder investigation after man "stabbed on a boat" in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

7:09am Monday 20th October 2014

A MAN was stabbed to death in Abingdon last night.

Severe weather warning for Oxfordshire following Hurricane Gonzalo

Oxford Mail: After the heatwave comes the thunderstorms: 'Yellow Alert' as heavy rain forecast

2:40pm Monday 20th October 2014

SEVERE weather warnings are in place for Oxford tomorrow.

On-target Alfie Potter hails dream day as Oxford United regain winning habit + VIDEO

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Monday 20th October 2014

ALFIE Potter hailed a “perfect day” as he came off the bench to score and give Oxford United a much-needed victory over Tranmere Rovers.

Man who scared off burglars with a sword from his Witney home is left feeling 'a bag of nerves'

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 20th October 2014

A BURGLARY victim who scared off his intruders while holding a sword said the incident had left him emotionally scarred.

Britain's Got Talent star Fabia and her feathered friends go burlesque for breast cancer funds in Cowley

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 20th October 2014

OXFORD’S own burlesque star Fabia Cerra hosted a special dancing class over the weekend to raise money for charity.

DIDCOT POWER STATION FIRE: 'It was a bit of an inferno' + Video

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Monday 20th October 2014

A HUGE fire ripped through a cooling tower at Didcot Power Station last night.

Taking the sugar out of diet is film’s sweet plan for Oxfordshire residents' health

Oxford Mail:

7:30am Monday 20th October 2014

YOUNGSTERS from Rose Hill have taken to the silver screen to encourage families across Oxfordshire to make healthier food choices.

Cheers! Thousands hail the ale

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Monday 20th October 2014

THOUSANDS of beer-lovers flocked to Oxford Town Hall to raise a toast to real ale at the annual Oxford Beer Festival.

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:40pm Tue 8 Jul 14

2Timothy says...

What is the fascination with Fire Crew for the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church? Their leadership ban them from joining the Fire Service, The Ambulance Service, The Police, The Armed Services and so on, but they like to bask in the reflected glory. What's that all about?
What is the fascination with Fire Crew for the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church? Their leadership ban them from joining the Fire Service, The Ambulance Service, The Police, The Armed Services and so on, but they like to bask in the reflected glory. What's that all about? 2Timothy
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree