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Tyre Fire Sherburn in Elmet FAQs

29th January 2014


The tyre fire at a recycling plant near Sherburn is likely to continue for another week or so.  Efforts are being made to bring an end to the fire as soon as possible, whilst protecting the local environment.  Here is a summary of the latest position.

 Tyre fire

What’s the background to this?

An emergency call was received on Thursday 16 January about a fire at a tyre recycling plant near Sherburn.  There were a significant number of tyres at the site, covering a wide area.  Because of the size and intensity of the fire, this was quickly declared to be a major emergency.


What is the latest position on the fire?

In the main, the fire is being left to burn out; its size means that any attempt to put out the whole site has the potential to cause pollution in local water courses and the surrounding area because of the amount of water required.  As part of the overall strategy of bringing the fire to an end, however, small amounts of material are being removed and extinguished when it’s safe to do so.


This means there may be some additional smoke over the coming days as some of the material is moved; this should be very localised.


What have we done to contain the fire and protect local residents and businesses?

Alongside the Fire and Rescue Service and Police, a number of other organisations have been involved in dealing with both the fire and its affect on the local area.  We’ve been working as one to ensure that people and property have been kept safe as far as possible, that the environmental impact of the fire has been minimised and that local people and businesses have had the information they needed in a way that was easy for them to access.

The other organisations involved have been the Environment Agency, North Yorkshire County Council, Selby District Council, the Met Office, Network Rail, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Public Health England, Northern Powergrid and Yorkshire Water.


What about the affects of the smoke on people’s health?

Experience from similar fires elsewhere, which has included monitoring of air pollution by Public Health England and the Environment Agency, indicates that the risk to public health remains low.  As the fire continues to burn out there does, however, remain the potential for the smoke to affect people, especially those with respiratory problems; the advice remains that 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 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.  This is based on their previous experience and measurements from a major fire several years ago.  If farmers have concerns over their own animals they should seek the advice of their vet.


What will happen to the site?

We’re now working alongside the company and the landowners to look at how best to clean up after the fire has burned out.  The Environment Agency is monitoring and advising the company on the clean-up at the site to ensure impact on the local environment is minimised.


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.  Inevitably there continues to be some disruption from the smoke as the fire burns out, but this is being closely monitored.


What about the investigation into the fire?

The joint investigation by North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, with support from other agencies, is continuing.

A 51-year-old local man has been arrested in connection with the investigation. Following questioning he was released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2, and ask for York CID. Or email


How do I keep up-to-date?

We’ll keep you updated via this website.  You can also follow the key organisations involved on Twitter.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue: @northyorksfire

North Yorkshire Police @Nyorkspolice

Selby District Council: @SelbyDC

Environment Agency: @EnvAgencyYNE

North Yorkshire County Council: @northyorkscc


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