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Lancaster primary school keeps pupils indoors as impact of industrial estate fire continues

Smoke billowing from the former A1 Supa Skips/power station site in Lancaster earlier this week.

A Lancaster head teacher has told Beyond Radio how the aftermath of a major fire at a nearby industrial estate has affected her primary school.

Lucy Naylor, head teacher at Willow Lane Primary School, said they have been asked to keep the children indoors due to smoke still coming from the former A1 Supa Skips site on the Lune Industrial Estate, four days after the fire.

The school is around half a mile away from the site of Sunday's fire which continues to affect the lives of residents and businesses, four days on.

The fire involved around 13,000 tonnes of commercial waste and firefighters remain on site dealing with the aftermath.

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. 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."

Ms Naylor said on Thursday: "Until we get the all clear we have been asked to keep the children indoors.

"We're making sure the children stay active, with lots of dances and walking around the building.

"It is hard. Most of the children enjoy playing out.

"The smell is not as bad as it was. The first couple of days afterwards, as soon as you went outside you could really smell it.

"It's quite a complex situation. We're just having to make the best of it. Until we get the go-ahead, it's beyond our control."

Willow Lane Primary School, pictured below, has 197 pupils.

Ms Naylor is also head at nearby Appletree Nursery School and said the children have been staying indoors there too.

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 Environment Agency 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."

On Thursday, Lancaster City Council said they would foot the bill for the up to £262,000 cost of demolishing outbuildings on the site, to "improve access for firefighters tackling the blaze".

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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