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Updated FAQs- Tyre Fire Sherburn in Elmet

11th February 2014

What’s going on at the site at the moment?

The Fire Service continues to monitor the site as the fire burns out.  The Environment Agency is working closely with the site owners and landlord to ensure a safe and efficient clean-up.

As a former mine, there are already a number of environmental protection measures at the site which are helping to protect the local area; for example drainage from the site is well controlled which is helping to minimise the environmental impact of the fire on the local area.  We’ll keep this under review.

 Why is the fire still alight, and how long will it burn?

This has been a significant fire covering a wide are and the priority has been to bring the blaze under control as quickly and safely as possible.  The fire has been left to burn out; the size of the site means that any attempt to put out the material across the whole site would have had the potential to cause pollution in local water courses and the surrounding area because of the amount of water required.

 It is very difficult to estimate how long this material could continue to smoulder.  As part of the overall strategy of bringing the fire to an end, however, small amounts of material are being removed from the perimeter of the fire when it’s safe to do so.  This means there may be some additional smoke at times as some of the material is moved; this should be very localised.

 Which areas are most affected by the smoke?

As material is moved away from the fire there may be temporary increases in the amount of smoke from the site.  Where this goes depends on the wind direction; the prevailing wind is from the south-west taking the smoke away from Sherburn in Elmet.  You can find out more about the five day forecast for the local area here [Met Office Church Fenton forecast – see link below], which includes information about expected wind direction.

 What about the affects of living near to the site if the fire continues to smoulder?

The reduced scale of the fire, general dispersal of the smoke plume away from residential areas and health surveillance so far indicates that the risk to public health remains low.  This will be kept under regular review.

As the fire continues to burn out there does, however, remain the potential for the smoke to affect people at times, especially those with respiratory problems; the advice remains to limit the time spent in smoke-affected areas and if you smell smoke remain inside if possible and keep windows and doors closed. 

In general, exposure to smoke is more likely to affect people who have existing breathing problems, lung or heart conditions (e.g. asthma, bronchitis, chronic pulmonary disease or heart disease). The very young and very old, smokers and people with flu or flu-like illnesses may also be at greater risk after exposure to smoke from fires.  People who are generally fit and well are unlikely to experience long-term health problems from temporary exposure to smoke from a fire.  People with asthma who may be in the vicinity of the fire should carry their inhaler.

If any symptoms persist, or you are concerned about the affects of smoke on your health, seek medical advice by calling NHS 111 or by contacting your GP.  In the case of an emergency call 999.

 What if I find ash deposits on my car or garden furniture?

Any deposits can be safely washed away with water or wiped away with a damp cloth.

 What about animals in the local area?

The Food Standards Agency has no toxicological concerns over the affect on food crops.  This is based on their previous experience and measurements from a major fire several years ago.  If farmers or householders have concerns over their own livestock or pets they should seek the advice of their vet.

 What about the businesses nearby that have been affected?

We’re working alongside the landowners of the whole Gascoigne Wood site to support businesses in the immediate area. 

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