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:

Record broken as more than £500,000 raised for Poppy Appeal

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 31st January 2015

THE POPPY Appeal’s fundraising target has been smashed in the county.

Snow across Oxfordshire - in readers' pictures + forecast

Oxford Mail:

7:43am Saturday 31st January 2015

IT'S been snowing overnight in Oxfordshire and here's some of the pictures our readers have sent in.

Oxford United striker Danny Hylton says they are ready for Stevenage battle

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 31st January 2015

Danny Hylton has warned Oxford United will get “eaten alive” at Stevenage today unless they match their hosts’ appetite for a battle.

Celebrations as the Blavatnik building is 'topped out'

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Saturday 31st January 2015

BUILDERS and Oxford University dons have celebrated “topping out” one of Oxford’s newest and most prominent buildings.

Oxfordshire County Council scrapping its chief executive role

Oxford Mail: Joanna Simons

8:30am Saturday 31st January 2015

OXFORDSHIRE’s biggest local authority is to scrap its top unelected position as part of a radical shake-up to save costs.

Minister visits arson hit South Oxfordshire councils building

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Saturday 31st January 2015

MINISTER Penny Mordaunt toured burned-out council headquarters to show her support for staff.

Churchill: The Bladon verger who met him in Germany and then was at his burial

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Saturday 31st January 2015

A 91-YEAR-OLD who served as a verger at the burial of Sir Winston Churchill has recounted the historic day 50 years on.

Churchill: I remember our football match was stopped as the train carrying his body passed

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Saturday 31st January 2015

FOR years Mike Cross was confused about why a football match he was playing in as a 16-year-old was suspended as a train went past.

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