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Council to pay up to £262,000 in demolition costs at fire-ravaged former Lancaster skip hire site

Smoke billowing from the former A1 Supa Skips/power station site in Lancaster

Lancaster City Council has announced it will fund the cost of demolishing buildings at a former skip hire site to help firefighters tackle the aftermath of a major blaze.

The council said demolishing outbuildings at the fomer A1 Supa Skips site on the Lune Industrial Estate in Lancaster would "improve access for firefighters tackling the blaze and reduce the amount of potential waste that could combust on the site".

A fire started at the site on Port Royal Avenue just after 5.30am on Sunday and has continued to produce a visible smoke plume in the area.

Residents and businesses are continuing to be advised to keep doors and windows shut.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue said the fire involved around 13,000 tonnes of commercial waste.

A fire chief said: "The seat of the fire lies between extensive layers of densely packed commercial waste and this makes it difficult for us to get the persistent pockets of fire that can endure for an extensive period."

The council said that a multi-agency group coordinating the incident response has agreed the outbuildings should be demolished and the work may cost up to £262,000. “This incident has already greatly affected local residents and businesses and the longer it continues, the greater the risk to those fighting the fire and the wider community," said Councillor Phillip Black, leader of Lancaster City Council. “It is imperative that we do all we can to bring this incident to a conclusion and while the emergency services have done a brilliant job so far, the presence of the outbuildings has slowed progress. “By demolishing these buildings we will provide greater access to the scene and improve our chances of successfully managing the incident.” Neil Taylor, area manager from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are grateful for the support of Lancaster City Council. The demolition will provide our firefighters with greater access to the site which will enable us to extinguish this fire faster and reduce the impact on the local residents and businesses.”

Caroline Harrison, group manager at Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said on Wednesday: "We are continuing to fire fight at the scene and we are dealing with a fire that involves approximately 13,000 tonnes of commercial waste.

"The main building is structurally unsafe and this poses a risk to our emergency response teams.

"Our priority is to extinguish the fire and work closely with the EA to minimise any potential environmental consequences stemming from the water run-off.

"The seat of the fire lies between extensive layers of densely packed commercial waste and this makes it difficult for us to get the persistent pockets of fire that can endure for an extensive period. Consequently, the fire continues to produce a visible smoke plume and we strongly advise residents to keep their windows and doors closed if they can smell smoke.

"As a result of this incident, several roads including Europa Way are temporarily closed and access to the industrial park is restricted as emergency operations are expected to persist for several days.

"We kindly ask the public to steer clear of the affected area. This request is not only for their safety but also to prevent any hindrance to our emergency efforts.

"We are continuing to work with Lancaster City Council, the Environment Agency, Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire County Council and we remain focussed to bring this incident to a safe conclusion as swifly as possible while minimising disuripton to the local community.

"Finally I just want to say thank you to the residents and businesses for their support since Sunday."

A major incident was declared earlier this year following other fires at the former skip hire site and power station, and a multi-agency task force the Lancashire Resilience Forum, including the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Lancashire Police, was set up.

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster, was among those calling for urgent action to clear the site due to concerns over the state of the building, premises and waste, and has been asking for help from the Government.

A1 Supa Skips Ltd went into administration in April 2022 and in November 2022, the Environment Agency announced they had removed their site permit.

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