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Tilbury power station blaze under control

  • 2-27-2012

A huge blaze which engulfed a power station at Tilbury in Essex has been brought under control, firefighters say.

More than 120 firefighters tackled the blaze, which started in a storage area containing about 4,000 tonnes of wood pellets at about 07:45 GMT.

Crews are now inside the building, using foam spray to starve the flames of oxygen.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze could continue burning for some time.

Plant owner RWE npower said all employees had been accounted for.

Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, incident commander, said the fire was one of the most challenging he had dealt with in his 20-year career.

'Punishing conditions'

"It has taken us some time to establish that the structure of the building is safe enough for us to commit crews," he said.

"But firefighters in breathing apparatus are now inside the building.

"They are doing an absolutely fantastic job in dangerous and punishing conditions.

"Inside the building it's hot, full of smoke and extremely dusty."

Extra stocks of foam are being brought in to tackle the blaze, which took hold in the north end of the power station.

Concerns had been raised about the structure of the building, as water was initially sprayed onto the pellets which increased their weight.

But high-expansion foam was later used as it was lighter than water and would not affect the weight of the wood.

Cause 'unknown'

Tilbury Power Station was built to burn coal, but was recently granted consent to burn biomass fuel and wood materials.

Biomass plants burn wood pellets, generally made from compacted sawdust or other wastes.

Mr Johnson said it was too early to say what caused the blaze.

He said the fire service had saved three-quarters of the potential fire spread, and that the next stage of the process would be removing wood chippings away from the storage area.

This could take up to two days, he added.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC


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